Big Skies Collaboration underway

Filed : Big Skies Collaboration, Our Current Projects:, PAST PROJECTS, Regional Arts Fund .

Skywriters and Art of Wiradjuri Constellations projects are part of the Big Skies Collaboration. Supported by the Regional Arts Fund. Writing groups are launched across the region in March.

Celebrating millennia of astronomies on the inland plains, Big Skies is a creative collaboration between arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to share stories about people’s relationships with the cosmos, especially as experienced from Wiradjuri country, in central western NSW.

The ‘Skywriters and art of Wiradjuri constellations’ projects, funded over two years (2017-2018) through the federal government’s Regional Arts Fund, use writing and visual arts in partnership with major observatories and universities as well as partnerships with writing groups and libraries, Cementa Festival, and local Wiradjuri community leaders.

Skywriters will be  launched in March, workshops May, August, November in  Parkes, Condobolin, Canowindra, Cowra, Orange, Bathurst, Grenfell + Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Dubbo, Warren.

Skywriters launch dates:

  • Bathurst City Library – Saturday 11 March, 11am
  • Condobolin Library – Wednesday 15 March, 12-2pm
  • Grenfell Library – Monday 20 March, 12-2pm
  • Warren Library – Tuesday 21 March, 12.30
  • Parkes Shire Library – Wednesday 22 March, 6pm
  • Macquarie Library, Dubbo – Thursday 23 March, 5.30pm
  • Coonabarabran Library – Friday 24 March, 12.30
  • Gilgandra Library – Saturday 25 March, 1pm
  • Narrabri Library – Monday 27 March, 5.30pm
  • Forbes Shire Library – Thursday 6 April
  • Orange City Library – Friday 7 April, 12.30
  • Cowra Library – Saturday 8 April, 11am

Project coordinator Merrill Findlay (right) with Condobolin Library Manager, Theresa Jude.

About Big Skies Collaboration

Big Skies Collaboration is a collection of projects using writing, dance, theatre, music, visual arts and digital installations to engage with people in rural and regional areas on the theme of astronomy. Working across an area stretching from Narrabri to the ACT – the 700 kilometre Array – a team of highly skilled creative practitioners will work with communities over a 2 year period (2017 – 18) in Phase 1. Phase 2 will be the culmination of the work and will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in 2019. Big Skies Collaboration is ambitious in its scope, but the different strands allow for the work to nevertheless be manageable and achievable.

There are five main strands operating throughout the collaboration, with funding received by Arts OutWest (from the Regional Arts Fund) for the first two components:
1. Skywriters
2. Visual arts
3. A new literary non-fictions book
4. Quasar Scan
5. Dance/ theatre.


(Visual arts). The project will work to support visual artists to explore the theme of astronomy. Work commenced this year with Peak Hill Aboriginal artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney commissioned to develop star work for Local Land Services based on the work that is being done in Wiradjuri astronomy. There are plans for exhibitions of work from the project to be held at participating observatories. The project will work towards presenting astronomically themed work in the 2019 Cementa Festival (Kandos). This element of the project has also been supported by Local Land Services.

Wiradjuri constellation yarran tree (c) Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney

Latest news
Some of Wiradjuri artist Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney’s constellation graphics have now been installed on Stellarium, the free digital planetarium program which lets you see the night sky from any location on Earth, and at any time in history. Cultural Astronomer Trevor Leaman has developed a Wiradjuri skylore package using Stellarium’s open source software. Scott Towney’s constellation graphics will be exhibited at the Cementa Festival of Contemporary Art in Kandos, in April 2017, with a film by another Big Skies Collaborator Kate Richards.  You can find more on Trevor’s recent research here, or on the BSC Facebook page.


Writing groups hosted by libraries across inland NSW. Throughout 2017-18 Merrill Findlay will lead face-to-face sessions with each group using the theme of astronomy to build skills. In addition to these sessions online support will be provided. Members of Skywriters will work towards developing work to submit to an anthology of work that will be published both as an e-book and in print. As part of the Skywriters development it’s planned that there will be observatory visits hosted at Siding Spring and Mount Stromlo and a number of smaller private observatories in between.

Latest news

The Skywriters Project now involves at least a dozen libraries within the 700 Kilometre Array region in south-eastern Australia. It’s planned that there will be a launch of the project in March to give local Skywriters an opportunity to discuss ideas for their own literary projects with Big Skies Collaborator Merrill Findlay. A series of workshops and special events will follow. Check out the Skywriters Facebook page for more details about these events.

Get involved in SKYWRITERS. Contact us at Arts OutWest and we’ll send you venue and date info as it comes to hand.

Upcoming Events

Fri 23
Sat 24

Kate Kelly at Yarra Valley Opera Festival

Sat October 24 at 7:00 pm