Shared Sky Exhibition brings together artists from South Africa and Australia
Shared Sky stems from a vision by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation to bring together South African and Australian artists in a collaborative exhibition celebrating humanity's ancient cultural wisdom. This vision embodies the spirit of the international science and engineering collaboration that is the SKA project itself, bringing together many nations around two sites in South Africa and Australia, to study the same sky.
Shared Sky connects artists working in remote communities from either side of the Indian Ocean that have ancient cultural connections to the two sites where the SKA will be located. Both locations were specifically chosen for their radio-quietness and relative isolation – fundamental requirements for a successful radio telescope facility. Prototype (precursor) telescopes are already active at each location, some of which will eventually become part of the much larger SKA telescope – the world's largest-ever radio telescope.
In South Africa, artists who are descendants of /Xam-speaking San people and others of the central Karoo produce artworks at the First People at Bethesda Arts Centre in the small village of Nieu Bethesda, in the Eastern Cape. They have produced collaborative artworks in textiles that explore their own creation myths and celebrate the ancient culture of their ancestors, who survived in the harsh environment of the central Karoo desert region for millennia.
For Yamaji people – indeed many Aboriginal communities right across southern Australia – the appearance of the dark shape of an emu stretched out along the length of the Milky Way has heralded the season for collecting emu eggs for thousands of years. In Western Australia, the Yamaji and other Aboriginal artists who have created artworks for Shared Sky are descendants of, or connected to, Wajarri people that, until the mid-19th century, were still living a largely traditional way of life, hunting and gathering on the land that is now the site of the Australian SKA.
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