The real Australia comes to Vietnam

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Before there were meat pies and Fosters Beer, the island of Australia was home to centuries' old indigenous cultures, rich in linguistic, musical and artistic traditions.

Though the onslaught of European colonization devastated these cultures and decimated whole communities, the resilience of aboriginal peoples and the recognition of the vibrant cultural heritage they represent has revived indigenous art forms.

The culturally curious will be able to take in a range of aboriginal Australian art this week at exhibitions and performances brought to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City by the Australian embassy and Australian Consulate-General in HCMC.

"Balgo: Contemporary Australian Art from the Balgo Hills" will showcase aboriginal painters in Hanoi on April 17 as part of an Australian Embassy program titled "Once in a 1,000 years: An Australian Gift to Hanoi," launched to celebrate the capital's 1,000th birthday this year.

The artworks convey the energy and dynamism of the artists of the Warlayirti Artists Art Center in the Balgo Hills region of Western Australia, according to a press release from the organizers.

The painters from Balgo, one of Australia's most remote settlements, include a generation of tribal elders who grew up in a context of customary tribal law, initiation and living from the land.

The Balgo artists' works were inspired from their rich knowledge of their traditions and their living in the harsh environment of the Western Desert. They combine the ancient with the contemporary; the abstract with the concrete; and the spiritual with the political.

Consisting of contemporary paintings and etchings, this exhibition presents a range of stories that demonstrate the strong connection between aboriginal people with their traditions as well as the ways in which those traditions are being maintained and celebrated today.

After the exhibition, Australian Didgeridoo & Vietnamese Bamboo Flute performance will take place on April 18 at the Hanoi Culture and Friendship Palace.

Free invitations for the opening (a maximum of two invitations per person) can be obtained at the Australian Embassy, 8 Dao Tan St., Ba Dinh District.

On April 19, "Australia - A Cultural Journey" will be a performance of traditional and modern aboriginal music featuring the famed didjeridoo, which some say is the planet's oldest instrument, at the Youth Cultural House in HCMC.

As part of the Australian Consulate General in HCMC's program "The World Within Reach," the event will feature indigenous Australian artist, Jeremy Donovan, as well as the five-member group Indigenous Hip Hop Projects (IHHP), a collective known for mixing indigenous and modern music and dance.

As a descendant of both the Gumbaynngirr and KuKu -Yalanji tribes, Jeremy Donovan has been playing the didgeridoo in both traditional and contemporary performances for over 10 years.

IHHP celebrates the fusion of indigenous culture and hip hop with its aboriginal community outreach programs. The group works to provide opportunities, role models, inspirations and collaborations for youth. The group works closely with elders, schools, local health services, and local councils to introduce skills and resources to enable long term, sustainable, community development.

Jeremy Donovan and IHHP will participate in workshops at the HCMC University of Fine Arts and the HCMC College of Choreography.

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