We are all made of stardust

(We are all made of) Stardust is a storytelling project in the Murray region that will use the magic of the night sky as a catalyst to explore Aboriginal and western stories of the constellations and the dark spaces in between. These stories will then be reinterpreted and retold as charcoal drawing animations – interwoven with timelapse photography of the night sky to create a short film to be shown around the region.

There are many different stories about the interpreting the night sky. Those from western culture revolve around the stars themselves whereas Aboriginal stories focus on the black spaces in between.

In basic science terms, all elements in the universe are made in stars. As humans, we are all made up of various elements – carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and trace elements etc. Fundamentally, each element in our bodies came from the stars. That we are all made of stardust through these elements and the matter within us make the stars such a magical and fascinating exploration. It is a part of being human.

Aboriginal people have long used storytelling and metaphor to explain scientific or natural occurrences. These stories will help crystallise the idea of turning something into something else, helping develop the skills of using imagination and metaphor in the creation of stories.

The medium of charcoal drawing lends itself particularly well to this project. The dark spaces explored in Aboriginal storytelling are created by charcoal dust. On paper, charcoal can be as dark as the night sky. The white spaces of the stars can be brought back to life, by rubbing back or using the white paper itself. There is a synergy between charcoal drawing and the two different ways of looking at the night sky.

After learning about the night sky and taking part in a star gazing event, project participants will work with artist Zhen Chew to create a new story, based on their experiences, understand and feelings of the stars. Zhen will facilitate a charcoal drawing animation which through the use of timelapse photography will reveal their story.

Residents from the NSW communities of Jindera, Thurgoona and Savernake will participate in this project. Filmmaker Helen Newman will edit each stop motion animation, including recording the narration of the stories by the people who created them. However, the films will not be limited by the stop motion format.

Helen will use her skills as a filmmaker and story teller to create and explore the stories with creative editing and colouring techniques and by using split screens to create short stories of beauty and wonder. Individual stories will be woven together along with images by astrolandscape photographer Gregg Gibbs to create a short film. The films will then be shown around the region.

This project builds on last year’s successful Charcoal Night project run by Murray Arts, the Albury Wodonga Astronomical Society and the Albury Wodonga Community CollegeCharcoal Night realised the powerful combination of the arts and science and its ability to engage with young people who were previously disinterested in both. (We are all made of) Stardust builds of this success and provides the opportunity to engage more people across the region and to present a spectacular series of outdoor public screening events.

Get involved!

Come and view the night sky through a telescope with experienced presenters from the Albury Wodonga astronomical society, and be a part of the story telling, drawing and animation activities described above. Three regional areas will play host to this fantastic event:

Workshop dates and venues:
The School of Arts Hall, Savernake: Tuesday 16th September
Thurgoona Community Centre: Thursday 18th September
St John’s Lutheran School, Jindera: Thursday 9th October

Star Gazing Workshop Times: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Register your interest through contacting Murray Arts on 02 6021 5034, info@murrayarts.org.au or visit the website.

For more information contact Jo Bartels (Projects Officer with Murray Arts) jbartels@murrayarts.org.au