Try to picture the Northern Territory? Maybe it’s Uluru, or crocodiles, or laksas, or Kakadu, or drag queens or the night sky. That’s all there, but now the NT can be seen in a new light, one that travels up from Uluru through Alice Springs and connects with the sea at the Top End in Darwin.
It is light that connects in the NT, a light that looks to capture the imagination, reflect its culture and illuminate the beauty of its landscape from red desert to lush rainforest.
That journey of light started with UK artist Bruce Munro’s Field of Light at Uluru, continued with Parrtjima A Festival Light at Alice Springs and has finished with Munro’s eagerly anticipated Tropical Light exhibition which has opened this month in Darwin.
Opening at the start of the wet season, the new exhibition features eight immersive large-scale light installations through the Darwin CBD and Waterfront.
“To be invited to create an exhibition is always a privilege,” says Munro. “Every city has its own unique fingerprint and Darwin is no exception to the rule. It is a very relaxed cultural and culinary melting pot located at the Top End of Australia between a vast tropical forest and an aquamarine coastline.
“Darwin is a veritable jewel that shines bright after each tropical downpour …it’s a place of adventure and inspiration!”
The artworks of six local artists across various mediums are also on display across the city alongside Munro’s eight illuminated sculptures. Among them is the work of motion capture and audio artist Shane Eecen.
“I was drawn to being part of ‘Tropical Light’ because of the idea of light,” he says.
“Through this project I look forward to showcasing all the drama, changing moods and colour, different patterns and unique personality of the Territory landscape through a visually engaging installation of time-lapse photography, motion capture and audio.”
Four of Munro’s installations are situated around the Darwin Convention Centre at the Waterfront Precinct.
“The Territory landscape is the perfect canvas to showcase these amazing works of art and Bruce Munro has truly captured the essence of Darwin with his work,” says Peter Savoff, general manager at Darwin Convention Centre.
“It is evident that time has been taken to appreciate and understand our city and the exhibition has incorporated layers of history, people and culture to create a wonderful, modern and artistic interpretation of Darwin in our distinctive Top End setting.
“There are events being held at the centre during the time of the exhibition that are making the most of our location and the opportunity to incorporate the tropical light theme into their programs.”
Rosie Peace, events & marketing coordinator at Darwin-based business events and strategic communications agency AA&P, says they are keen to incorporate Tropical Light into their future events and to contribute to changing wet season misconceptions and perspectives.
“In doing so, we would like to include tropical season packages and experiences, through social functions and additional activities and experiences at our conferences and events,” she says.
“We are also keen to engage with local venues, suppliers, restaurants and hotels to create unique experiences for delegates, including; tropical inspired – personal tours, menus and dining options, adventures and getaways.
“The Tropical Light installation adds another dimension to the growing vibrance of the city and creates a sense of fun, culture and creativity in our streets.”
She also says the installations will help change outdated views of the wet season.
“I believe this will inspire businesses to review how they operate and their offerings during this time which suggests a positive outlook for the future,” she says.
It was Munro’s Field of Light at Uluru that first illuminated the landscape with the power of imagination, attracting hundreds of thousands of people since 2016. Following a $1million refurbishment of the installation, it has since been extended indefinitely giving more people the opportunity to experience this global phenomena.
“The incredible clarity of light, colours and night sky of the Northern Territory are a constant source of inspiration and it is no surprise that that the region has become synonymous with monumental light art,” says Grant Hunt, CEO of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia.
“Field of Light was first conceived at Uluru back in 1992, while the artist Bruce Munro was camping in the Red Centre with his fiancée (now wife) Serena. The work returned to its ‘birthplace’ in 2016, when Field of Light Uluru was launched at Ayers Rock Resort, and more than 450,000 guests have experienced the artwork since.
“We are delighted that the installation has held such appeal for travellers and has inspired more incredible light installations across the Northern Territory.
“These immersive light exhibitions allow people to experience a destination in a way that is unexpected and add great depth to the memory bank.”
Alice Springs has its own festival of light with Parrtjima, which is held annually in April. Set against the backdrop of the MacDonnell Ranges, Parrtjima showcases the oldest continuous cultures on earth through the newest technology.
Held across two event precincts, the free event includes artwork and light installations alongside a 10-night public program of interactive workshops, music, films and talks.
Dale McIver, director at Alice Event Management & Consultancy, says the opportunities are endless for events held during Parrtjima.
“Dinner under the stars, with the lights of Parrtjima as a backdrop, a special and unique talk with some of the local indigenous artists who help inspire and create the lights festival, an opportunity to mingle with locals and take in the truly spectacular lit landscape of the MacDonnell Ranges,” she says.
“The skies are so clear in the Territory with little pollution from both the atmosphere or major light sources.
“This enables us to showcase lights in a truly amazing way by using the stunning natural landscapes. They not only look amazing when lit up, but they tell a story, capture you and draw you in wanting more.”
The rugged beauty of Alice Springs is available all year round for events. One such event that showcased the unique Alice Springs landscape for its 400 delegates was the Family Business Australia conference in 2018.
“From Welcome Drinks as the sun was setting at Simpson’s Gap, to holding our Family Business Awards Dinner under the stars at the Telegraph Station, and final night knees-up at the Old Quarry…if you haven’t eaten deconstructed Black Forrest cake of the back of a ute in a quarry, you haven’t lived,” says Anne-Marie McNally, national product manager at Family Business Australia.
Encore were engaged to produce the events, supplying all audio, lighting and projection for the whole conference. For the finale at the Old Quarry, Indigenous artist and performer Tommy Crowe painted a contemporary aboriginal artwork that was filmed and projected onto the rock wall in real time, which gave the illusion of the painting being created directly onto the cliff.
“There is no end to the possibilities for your events in Alice,” says McNally. All you have to do is follow the light.
To find out more about holding an event in the NT head here.