How Rainforests Talk (2019-21)

A multisensory project on the way ecosystems develop, communicate and sustain themselves.

In development with the Australian National Botanic Gardens, to coincide with the opening of their new greenhouse Conservatory, part of the ANBG 50th anniversary celebrations in early 2020.

The Conservatory will represent three rainforest ecosystems–two from Kakadu; one from Christmas Island. The goal of the project is to assist young visitors understand the complex and co-operative interrelationships which help sustain each unique environment.

Through imaginative processes including movement, storytelling and visual arts, the project will

  1. a) create a performance, for the opening of the Conservatory; and
  2. b) publish a series of children’s books and online resources, utilising the artwork created by children in this process.

A special part of this project is to facilitate ‘live’ exchanges between inhabitants of Christmas Island and Kakadu, and children and families attending the workshops. We will be pioneering a new online drama, storytelling and documentation process in this project.

There will be indigenous perspectives of each environment to research and coordinate. At least one of the book publications will feature a side-by-side storytelling from these contiguous cultural perspectives.

During workshops, we will collate materials that contribute to an audio installation in the Conservatory. This touch-based technology will allow the voices of children—of how they interpret ‘life-stories’ of rainforests—to become permanently incorporated into the greenhouse visitor experience.

 

Adjunct activities:

One or more Canberra-based refugee groups (e.g. Dinka children) will be supported to participate in workshops that specifically address the way plants migrate and adapt to new environments. For example, there is a unique, sweet water mangrove on Christmas Island that has clearly ‘arrived’ from somewhere else. Each participant group will devise their own way of telling the story of these migrations—in performance, and/or via a book-form publication.

This part of the project has long-term goals to assist immigrant and refugee communities process their experience of migration through arts-based practices. The workshops will provide opportunities to re-present and transform experiences of displacement, alienation, adaptation, and survival, in the welcoming environment of the Botanical Gardens.

This project is in early development with the Australian National Botanic Gardens, friends of the ANBG, and in consultation with Representatives of Aboriginal Organisations (RAOs) in the Canberra, Christmas Island and Kakadu regions.

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