On Cockatoo Island, join us for two days of free talks, workshops, activities and music dedicated to families and community.
Sunday 20 May
11 am – 4 pm (with special performance 4–5 pm)
Melissa Jackson: Has Sydney always been called Sydney? Waranara Yuwing = seek the truth
A discussion on the placenames and identities of Aboriginal Sydney in the colonial era, drawing from the rich array of images, manuscripts, realia and maps held in the State Library NSW collection. Librarian and specialist Melissa Jackson works in the Indigenous Services Branch at State Library NSW. She is of Bundjalung descent, with family links to the Baryulgil area near Grafton. She has a background in teaching and a passion for Aboriginal languages.
Collaborative sculpture making with Reverse Garbage
11 am–3 pm
Building 137 (Industrial Precinct, lower island)
Suitable for all ages
Everyone is invited to contribute to a giant sculpture using materials saved from landfill. All-day workshop run by Marrickville’s beloved reuse and recycle centre Reverse Garbage.
Pop-up Community Museum
11 am–4 pm
Addison Road Community Centre brings a pop-up, do-it-yourself, community museum to Cockatoo Island for one day only. Everyone is invited to bring along a special object that relates to the idea of Journeys. Our ‘curators’ will help you label and display your object and record its story. Leave your object for others to see while you visit the rest of the Island, and pick it up before you head home.
Shirley Chan: Wuxing
This 30-minute talk by Chinese culture and philosophy scholar Shirley Chan explores the Chinese concept of wuxing, from its origins to its multiple uses over time. Wuxing is a term that refers to the five elements or phases that make up the universe, and is behind the concept of ‘equilibrium’ in the title of the 21st Biennale of Sydney.
Associate Professor Shirley Chan is Head of Chinese Studies in the Department of International Studies, Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University and has served as President, Chinese Studies Association of Australia. She researches and teaches in the field of Sinology with broad interests in Chinese culture, classical Chinese philosophy, textual studies, intellectual history, and the excavated Chu bamboo manuscripts, on which she has published in English and Chinese.
Jeffrey Kelleway: Mangroves
Wetlands specialist Jeffrey Kelleway talks about the significance of mangroves – a fascinating plant species and one of the materials used in artist Yasmin Smith’s Drowned River Valley, 2018 on Cockatoo Island. Smith’s ceramic works examine the local presence of salt harvested from harbour/river tidal exchange water around the Island as well as in the ash of Avicennia marina (grey mangrove).
Jeffrey Kelleway is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Macquarie University, and has been studying wetland ecosystems for over a decade. Drawing on his research into wetlands, the roles they play within nature and the services they provide for us, he explains the significance of mangroves and their particularities in this talk, which incorporates areas of of ecology, geomorphology and biogeochemistry, among other environmental science fields.
WORKSHOP & PARTICIPATORY SINGING
With the Sydney Shape Note Singers
1.15–3.15 pm (30-minute workshop, 1 hour singing for all, 30-minutes more complex songs)
Shape Note or Sacred Harp singing is a tradition of community singing that originated in colonial New England, and which has been practiced for generations in the United States. This loud, participatory, folk hymn singing form features in Suzanne Lacy’s multipart film installation on Cockatoo Island, The Circle and the Square, 2016. The Sydney Shape Note Singing community lead a workshop for interested singers of all abilities to get to know the tradition and specialised form of musical notation, then participate in a singing.
Sydney Sufi Ensemble
The Sydney Sufi Ensemble perform contemporary Sufi ritual music from the Persian 'Sama' tradition, which originated in Iran but has influences ranging from Persian, Indian, Turkish and Kurdish music. Their 45-60 minute musical performances produce a collective energy that echoes the Sufi Dhikr chanting recorded in Suzanne Lacy’s multipart film installation, The Circle and the Square, 2016. Lacy’s installation documents a day-long performance with Dhikr chanting and Shape Note singing that was the culmination of a two-year project created with the people of Pendle in Northwest England in collaboration with local organisations. Donations received at the performance will go towards Matthew Talbot Hostel, and meals for homeless people in Woolloomooloo.