Patyegarang: The Sets

  • Sydney
  • Props, Sets & Lighting, Highlights

'As a theatre designer I am always observing, looking around me to take in not only the larger landscape, but more importantly the details within it. Searching for the visual stories that live in the land, in its people and in the artefacts of that place.' - Set Designer Jacob Nash

'In this year’s work, Patyegarang, I have had the opportunity to design a work that is from Eora country, which is the country I now live on and the country Bangarra calls home.

Because of this, all the inspiration for the design was, for the first time, all around me and from a country that I am very familiar with. This presents its own specific design challenges of which the largest is being able to reinterpret the land I live on and travel across everyday. I had to shift my vision from the distractions of daily life and begin to see the urban landscape through the eyes of Patyegarang. My gaze was directed away from the cityscape of familiarity and urban sprawl as I asked the question: what was there before and what would that look like? What would that feel like?

I looked for suggestions in the landscape, listened, met contemporary caretakers of this land and made a stronger connection to the urban landscape with the hope of discovering what lies beneath. My eyes, ears and sense of smell were retrained as I let the spirit and story of Patyegarang guide me. In doing this I have tried to find moments and places around the harbour, that let me breathe and imagine, as well as seeking the essence of this country before white man arrived. And then it is a process of stripping back the layers of the urban sprawl to find purity and essence of colours, textures and a process of revealing the inner spirit of this country.

One of the beautiful qualities of Eora country and Sydney is light and colour and how they affect the water of the harbour and the sandstone that surrounds its edges differently throughout the day. In creating the world for Patyegarang to live in, I have tried to find a visual solution that holds the ethereal qualities of this country and create an emotional response to her story and the land it is from. And thus the colour palette I have explored and the textures I am using are a collection from around the Harbour. They are in my life every day and being able to find a contemporary way to explore and create with them has been a rich and unexpected experience. Hopefully I have been able to capture an essence of the world Patyegarang knew and the design holds the qualities needed for her story to be told today.' - Set Designer Jacob Nash


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