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In 2009, Australian Indigenous artists from Yamaji Art in Geraldton and astrophysicists from ICRAR came together to explore different understandings of the night sky and the Universe.

Artists and astronomers participated in a series of group activities, including a visit to the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory and the Murchison Widefield Array. They shared stories about the landscape and the artists painted interpretations of their experiences. Over 100 paintings were produced, typically in the “dot art” style.

The result was Ilgarijiri – Things Belonging to the Sky, an art exhibition aimed to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Australia through the night sky, a sight shared by all people on Earth.

Paintings in the Ilgarijiri exhibition on display in Geraldton.

Paintings in the Ilgarijiri exhibition on display in Geraldton.

So far the exhibition has toured Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Europe and the US. The project generated wide acclaim and provided opportunities for the artists to gain exposure for their work. Well over half of the paintings have been sold to buyers around Australia and the world and the artists continue to be inspired by their experiences in the Murchison.

Partly in recognition of his achievement with Ilgarijiri, ICRAR Deputy Director Professor Steven Tingay from Curtin University was awarded the ‘Science Ambassador of the Year’ award at the 2012 WA Science Awards.