When the sun goes down, the outback on North Terrace lights up

Last updated 08 Dec, 2022

Adelaide’s most iconic streetscapes and landmarks have turned into night-time playgrounds, illuminated with all sorts of projections, immersive installations and artworks as part of City Lights. Presented by the Adelaide Economic Development Agency (AEDA), City Lights is a free, citywide spectacle of light and sound across the north, east and west precincts of the CBD. Experience Adelaide and the Adelaide Economic Development Agency speaks to Aboriginal artist Vincent Namatjira about his City Lights installation called Going Out Bush.

The inspiration behind Vincent Namatjira’s City Lights exhibition

Shaking up an iconic North Terrace landmark by drawing inspiration from his remote Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands home is a career highlight for Aboriginal painter, Vincent Namatjira.

The 2020 Archibald Prize winner used his great grandfather Albert Namatjira’s green truck as inspiration for a giant projection on the Art Gallery of South Australia’s façade.

Vincent, who also won the 2019 Ramsay Art Prize, describes the truck, and his series of paintings on the Gallery’s frontage, as an important symbol of pride, recognition, family and freedom.

Going out bush with family is such an important part of Aboriginal culture and I wanted to share some of my Country and culture with the audience,” Vincent says.

“I’m bringing the desert of my home in Indulkana to the big smoke of Adelaide.”

Working with the Art Gallery of South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia approached the award-winning artist who was initially a “bit nervous” about taking over the North Terrace landmark’s frontage.

Vincent, the first Indigenous artist to win the Archibald in 2020, he settled into the idea as he started creating mock-ups for his design called Going Out Bush.

He says being a part of Illuminate Adelaide is a chance for artists and audiences to look at the city in new ways.

I was approached by the gallery to do this projection work and I thought, ‘I’ve never done anything like this before’,” Vincent says.

“I’m not afraid to try something new.

“I like a challenge, so I was really happy to give it a crack and have some fun with it.”

VINCENT Image Credit Courtesy of Iwantja Arts photographer Rhett Hammerton
photo-icon Courtesy of Iwantja Arts photographer Rhett Hammerton

The paintings that have taken over North Terrace

The colonial façade of the Gallery has temporarily been taken over by the Central Australian desert as part of Vincent’s display.

The frontage is the stage for a vibrant and witty series of encounters, which includes an Aboriginal flag flying proudly and Vincent’s message ‘Bringing the bush to the big smoke’.

Through his work, Vincent replaces the heads of Captain James Cook and the Queen Elizabeth with his own face to present an alternate view of Australia’s complex colonial history.

His great grandfather’s truck makes an appearance, as do footballers from the local Indulkana Tigers team.

In a final gesture of peace, Queen Elizabeth and Vincent exchange bush treats maku (witchetty grubs) and (tjala) honey ants.

“I made a storyboard of all my ideas of what I wanted to show and how I wanted it to look,” he says.

“I shared a bunch of images from my paintings with the crew who are doing the animations and they did their magic to make my ideas come to life,” Vincent says.

City Lights, suitable for all ages, is on until July 31.

Illuminate Adelaide received funding through AEDA's Events and Festivals Sponsorship Program. City Lights is presented by the Adelaide Economic Development Agency.