Parrtjima: A Festival In Light

Parrtjima is pulling out all the stops for this year’s festival, today announcing the first part of its public program, the Parrtjima Knowledge Program alongside a second event precinct at Todd Mall in Alice Springs CBD.

Curated by renowned First Nations creative director Rhoda Roberts AO the ten-day Knowledge program is the biggest yet and showcases film, musical performance, dance and conversations with artists and performers across two event precincts to bring together the stories, sounds and rhythms of Central Australia.

Headlining this year’s festival is internationally acclaimed duo Electric Fields, who will bring their genre-defying sounds to the infinite spaces of the vast Red Centre. Zaachariaha Fielding, vocalist for Electric Fields who often sings in his traditional languages of the Anangu people, said the duo jumped at the chance to be part of the festival.

“We’ve played in some spectacular places across the world, but to be able to share our music and stories underneath a million stars surrounded by Country in the middle of the Red Centre – what more could we ask for? We hope our sounds echo off the ancient ranges and vibrate in the souls of every single person there,” said Fielding.

Exhibiting artists will also form a key part of the festival program, inviting festival goers to step inside the inner circle and share in the stories behind the art. Parrtjima also welcomes an extraordinary line up of films, including films by local Alice Springs film makers, to celebrate the diverse creativity across platforms within the region.

In addition to the festival hub at Alice Springs Desert Park, the Parrtjima Todd Mall precinct will showcase stunning lighting effects along the mall and a new installation telling the Caterpillar dreaming stories of Alice Springs. It will also be home to a second Knowledge program site on the central lawns including creative workshops, film and music.

Parrtjima curator Rhoda Roberts said: “I am beyond excited to see the growth of Parrtjima through the Knowledge Program. Particularly, to hear the language and the stories of the local custodians, witness the exchange of dance and to have the group Electric Fields, who are simply magnetic. It’s unexpected to hear the adaptation of language into Electronica music – they bring a new genre that I know so many of our audiences will be wowed by.

“This year’s Knowledge Program is the biggest yet, and to be able to work with so many inspirational artists and performers to share the language and stories and witness the exchange of artmaking and culture is a real pleasure,” said Roberts.

The public program will feature a range of themes across the two event precincts of Alice Springs Desert Park and Todd Mall including:


Take part in eight up-close and personal ‘Talks and Ideas’ sessions at this year’s festival. Join in one of our immersive panel sessions to discuss Custodial Knowledge and the 21st Century with Benedict Stevens and Mervyn Rubuntja or the Women of Alice with Lorena Walker. Meet the artists to hear more about their works, their influences and the stories behind them. Featured artists include Ruth Fatt from Ninuku Arts, Ursula Marks and Myra Patrick Herbert from Warnayaka Arts, Susie Lane and Keturah Zimran from Ikuntji Artists, Evelyn Young, June Smith and Stacey Davis from Keringke Artists and local Arrente artists Rachel Wallace whose works feature in Grounded Space talks with her father Mr. ‘Coco’ Wallace.


Experience Parrtjima in a new light, with an amazing backdrop of musicals sounds. Genre-defying musical duo, Electric Fields, will perform on the opening weekend, offerings visitors the privilege of experiencing the breathtaking beauty and power they bring to the stage. Local musician and member of the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group, Warren H. Williams will take to stage for the second weekend with an acoustic performance. They will be joined by local singer and songwriter Johanna Campbell, local hip-hop duo Karnage N Darknis and Eastern Reggae Band. For the chance to discover the next big music act, an unplugged session will also give local unsigned artists the opportunity to showcase their talents.


Gathering Space is an installation that tells the stories of Central Australian artists through light, multimedia and repurposed materials. Featuring a concentric circle of doors, visitors are invited to step inside to a gathering space activated by old television monitors, each showcasing stories from the artists. As part of the Knowledge Program, visitors will also get the opportunity to deepen their understanding and meet and share these stories in person with Barkly Artists Susannah Nelson and Lindy Brody and local Arrente artist Patricia Ansell Dodds.


Sit back and expand your horizons with film screenings each night of the festival. Drawing from a combination of local and national filmmakers, the festival cinema at the Todd Mall precinct will screen films every night across the Parrtjima calendar.


Unlock the original Australian knowledge systems through the medium of song and dance with the Tinkerbee Dancers, guided by Kumalie (Rosalie) Riley, an Arrente woman from Alice Springs.


Sit down and meet the makers of Parrtjima including, Parrtjima’s curator Rhoda Roberts AO, Project Director for Parrtjima, AGB Events and Parrtjima’s Lighting Designer Richard Neville.

Festival curator Rhoda Roberts worked closely with Aboriginal artists and art centres from across the desert region to develop the Knowledge and Creative Program, with endorsement from the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group and ongoing consultation with a wider network of respected Arrernte persons.

The light installation at the Todd Mall precinct was requested by Arrernte people guiding and advising the festival to help show that Arrernte are still the first people of this place and that people have always come from many directions to gather here and connect.

Parrtjima (pronounced Par-CHee-ma) comes from the Arrernte group of languages, which has many dialects and ways of spelling words. In Central and Eastern Arrernte, ‘pwarrtyeme’ means ‘to shine’. The spelling of the event’s name was chosen by the Arrernte group advising the festival in its first year. It suggests shedding both light and understanding on a subject.

The festival runs from 28 September – 7 October 2018, and entry is free from 6.30pm – 10.30pm each night. The full festival program is available at