There are some amazing elements that are built into the Seven Sisters exhibition. For me personally, it might be the highlight of this years exhibitions to visit. The exhibition tracks songlines that stretch between three Indigenous lands - APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara), Ngaanyatjarra and Martu. The exhibition focuses on community design mixed with highly visual and immersive displays.
From a design perspective, I thought the information panels were brilliant. I would probably say that the average Australian has a distinct lack of understanding in regards to Indigenous Australian culture. Although I am keenly enthusiastic to learn more, my knowledge base is still much smaller then I would like it to be. The panels were not overwhelming, and were written in an engaging manner. Many of the panels included a break down a painting, giving a viewer an understanding of what the individual elements were adding up to. The panels often included back ground information such as maps and the artists method of creating the piece. The information on those panels took me from ‘Gee, that’s pretty’, to ‘Wow! I can see that story in the painting!’.
The other big shiny part of the exhibition is the extraordinary immersive moments. The two big emmersion points is the shine dome and the art centre. Domelab is an incredible experience; laying on your back on a cushioned surface and watching an ultra-high resolution domed screen. The dome displays rock art from areas that are almost unreachable for the average person, wrapping the moving images into the narrative of the Seven Sisters. For someone who struggles to ever get the focus right on those VR goggles, it was a welcome relief. It’s both intimate and overwhelming all at once, and truly beautiful. The art centre placed in the middle of the exhibition felt almost like I was stepping out of Canberra and taking a jock stroll somewhere else entirely. They are two very effective pieces of immersion that work exceptionally well with the narrative.
I love the concept of how the exhibition was brought together. Instead of a traditional process of a curator choosing and developing a narrative to display, the museum was approached by Indigenous elders who wanted to share the Seven Sister stories with the world. To preserve and promote culture, it was lead by a Indigenous Community Curatorium. This is an exhibition that was community led, with the museum being a conduit for the voices that wanted to be heard. The narrative is never seen as something that is past or even becoming dated - the story of the Seven Sisters is a vibrant narrative that is full of life, drama and humour. It’s a celebration of communities, culture and Country.
Songlines: Seven Sisters is an incredible piece of design, curation and modern museology practice.
A figure made by Tjanpi Desert Weavers. Potentially one of my favourite pieces in the exhibition.