<strong>Genevieve Lacey’s innovative sound installation transforms Garden of Australian Dreams</strong>

Genevieve Lacey’s innovative sound installation transforms Garden of Australian Dreams

An evocative sound installation comprising multiple musical pieces will transform the visitor experience in the National Museum of Australia’s Garden of Australian Dreams.

The Museum partnered with internationally renowned musician and composer Genevieve Lacey to develop the groundbreaking project Breathing Space, which creates an oasis of sound within the Garden of Australian Dreams (GOAD).

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said, ‘This innovative sound installation will transform the Garden of Australian Dreams, bringing music, language and the sounds of country into our central garden space. Breathing Space is the latest example of the Museum supporting performing artists and will strengthen the connections between the natural and the built, people and place, listening and learning.’

‘It’s been a burning ambition to reimagine the Garden of Australian Dreams for a long time and after seeing the work of Genevieve Lacey, an internationally renowned musician and composer, specifically with Sydney Living Museum and Vaucluse House, to bring garden spaces to life, the Museum saw an opportunity to approach Genevieve to create a unique sound installation to take visitors on an emotional journey of Australia’s long human history,’ Dr Trinca said.

‘Supporting the arts was really important to the Museum during COVID and we are delighted that this project employed 21 musicians and singers, 12 sound artists, and a broader creative team who have licensed existing field recordings and composed and recorded new musical material,’ Dr Trinca said.

‘This is an important collaboration with Australian artists, and we funded this knowing we could give work and assistance to artists at such a difficult time,’ Dr Trinca said.

Genevieve Lacey said, ‘It has been the gift of a lifetime to work on this project, with the generous, brilliant National Museum team. Breathing Space brings together ideas, sounds, people who have been central to my life for years. We’re rapt about the work and can’t wait to welcome people to enjoy it.’

The sound garden is inspired by texts by Waanyi Nation woman Alexis Wright – activist, author and documentary maker from the highlands of the southern Gulf of Carpentaria.

As they move around the GOAD, visitors will hear familiar and unfamiliar sounds: choruses of frogs and cicadas; the flutter of strings; percussive creaks and rattles; subterranean rumbles from the deep oceans; voices whispering, speaking and singing; and beautiful instrumental phrases, layered and abstracted into patterns.

The GOAD is a symbolic landscape of sculptural forms, water features and creative representations of the ways in which the Australian continent has been mapped and defined. Encircled by the Museum, it provides an opportunity for visitors to stop and reflect on the artistic exploration of ‘place’ and ‘home’.

Breathing Space interweaves spoken voices, choral song, environmental field recordings, percussive accompaniments and composed music. With speakers discreetly distributed throughout the garden, the entire space quietly reverberates, emanating life.

It draws visitors into a reverie of place, a meditation on their own relationship to land and listening, and celebrates fragile ecologies – of species, language, country, culture.

This evocative soundscape is envisaged as a sonic ‘rewilding’ of the Garden of Australian Dreams and offers visitors a unique audio experience unmatched anywhere else in Australia.

Visit nma.gov.au to learn more.