Until the 26th of September 2020 you can conduct your own reading at the biennale installation at Carriageworks. Onsite there is an installation of unbound booklets from the production of NIRIN NGAAY – you can take a selection and do your own reading. Go visit!

Reading NIRIN: Andrew Rewald

In this video, Andrew Rewald reads 'On the Movement of Plants' from NIRIN NGAAY. Watch here

Reading NIRIN: Karla Dickens

Karla Dickens reads her contribution, 'Ready, Willing and Able'. Watch here

Reading NIRIN: Gladys Milroy

In this video, Gladys Milroy reads her story, 'The Black Feather'. Watch here

Reading NIRIN: Jessyca Hutchens

In this video, Jessyca Hutchens introduces us to the book. Watch here

Printed matter & NIRIN publications

Stuart Geddes and Trent Walter speak with Brook Andrew about their own artistic processes in printed matter and how they came to collaborate and produce two publications for NIRIN. The two publications, the exhibition catalogue NIRIN (edge) and the 'reader' NIRIN NGAAY (see the edge) were created in collaboration with (editors) Jessyca Hutchens (Assistant Curator to the Artistic Director) and Brook Andrew. Watch here

An artist’s book by Stuart Geddes and Trent Walter.
Edited by Jessyca Hutchens, Brook Andrew, Stuart Geddes and Trent Walter.
Commissioned for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney.

The Biennale of Sydney team and authors of this publication acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation; the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation; the Bidiagal, Dharawal and Gamaygal people, on whose ancestral lands and waters NIRIN gathers.

NIRIN is a safe place for people to honour mutual respect and the diversity of expression and thoughts that empower us all.

NIRIN NGAAY is a compilation, a collection, a volume, an Artist Book, a Reader, an artwork, a sprawling, excessive heterogenous space of connections. Published as part of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), titled NIRIN, A Wiradjuri word meaning ‘edge’, this book is a space where ideas, themes, research, and experiments arising out of NIRIN find places on pages. Traversing many disciplines and forms, encompassing new and previously published works, complete works as well as excerpts and fragments and responses, each piece may ask for new modes of reading and seeing. Instead of disorienting, we see many lines darting and weaving across these works, beautiful moments of syncing and overlap, affective and abstract resonances, moments of density, as well as pauses to breathe deeply. Read and see and touch at random or with resolve – we hope that you will appreciate the way these works unfold and twist together, creating movements of meaning between them. ‘NGAAY’ is a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘see.’ To really see ‘edges’, might also be to sense and feel and trace them, they come into view with clarity, hover in the periphery, or drift away like memories.

Buy the book

Copies of NIRIN NGAAY can be purchased at the
Biennale of Sydney Shop

Book credits

First published in 2020 by the Biennale of Sydney Ltd.

Published with generous support from Aesop and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

This publication is copyright and all rights are reserved. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced or
communicated to the public by any process without prior written permission of the copyright holder.

© Biennale of Sydney Ltd
All texts and artworks © the author or artist.

Published for the exhibition the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN, 14 March – 8
June 2020.

ISBN: 978-0-9578023-9-1

Biennale of Sydney
Chief Executive Officer: Barbara Moore
Artistic Director: Brook Andrew
Editors: Jessyca Hutchens, Brook Andrew, Stuart Geddes and Trent Walter
Publications team: Sebastian Henry-Jones, Liz Malcolm and Jodie Polutele

Designed, typeset and printed by Stuart Geddes and Trent Walter on a Heidelberg GTO 52. Some sections printed by Printgraphics and Newsprinters.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Biennale of Sydney.

Biennale of Sydney Ltd
Level 4
10 Hickson Road
The Rocks NSW 2000

Film credits

Director & Producer
Amy Browne

Amy Browne
Jason Heller

Jaime Snyder

Sound by
Jaime Snyder
Ben Coe

Nirin Ngaay


The following works are interpretive translations by Joel Davison of two poems by Elicura Chihuailaf. The original versions of these poems can be read as part of the piece, ‘Conversation with Elicura Chihuailaf’ in this book. The Dharug versions of the two poems have been translated back into English and are included, along with footnotes, as a reflection on the translation process.


Elicura Chihuailaf
A translation from English to Dharug

Warawara ngaya wala: wawubuni gungawa
Gumada yiyari guwugu ngabay
dyi gillydyami gilli
Yarrang mari bulga
Walamawa ngyini warada
bangawawawi ngubady
Wiyanga wawu ngaya guwugu
Nangamay yanma?


Elicura Chihuailaf
A translation of Dharug to English

Far away I was: nowhere, (I was) crying
A spirit thusly, now and always
Lit from your light
Valleys and great hills
Followed me
I returned and your warratah 1 
They made me love 2
Mother, where will my present 
Dreams go?

  1. The original version uses ‘flowers’ while waradah / waratah is a genus of small flowering tree. I don’t know of any general term for flowers, I’m sure that it existed, it’s just lost to me. 

  2. I don’t know the word for happy, not many ‘feeling’ or ‘thinking’ words were recorded unfortunately. 


Elicura Chihuailaf
A translation of English to Dharug, stanzas 1–4.

Ngaya duga, dingaladi guru
nula ngaya butbut
Ngarami bayumi dyi badu?
Durunanang, durung, djurumin, babana
Mudungwa guwagu, nagaya gunya
dyi dyinalung, mula
dyi binyang. wiring, guwul
dyi bemul, gunyagunya
dyi ngalangala dyiral
Nulawa mudung gura dyi butbut ngyini
Ngyina djirang gurgi dyi ganawa
dyirang dyi gili djurali
Na bagangun buraga 
nula bawuwan?
Dingaladi bayumi daramu
nula nangamay gili
dyi buruwa burudyara 

Naawami ngaya guwagu dyi
yanmamibuni birrung gamarabu
ngaya mudung munuruwamibuni dyi nganaga
dyi wiyanga bemul muru
munurumibuni managnun dyi
dyi mari guru
namila wumeradyi giba nawabuni 
mawamiwawi dyi bulga
dyi wiyanga bemul

Ngaya mari duga dyi wingaradya
dyi iyora gunyalunyalung
ngumun manuwimi bemul
wawa dyi ngabay


Elicura Chihuailaf
A translation of Dharug to English, stanzas 1–4.

I am the forest, it is the deep 1
from my heart
Do you hear the music/tune of water
Daughter, son, sister, brother
You didn’t forget me?
I’m alive still/presently, I am the house
of women and men
of birds and animals male & female 2
of earth and insects
of mushrooms and shoals 3
Your wind lives inside of my heart
In between leaves and roots of my scent
the leaves of light grow
See how conversation rises
in the shadows?
It is the music of the trees
in which Dreams shine
of clouds and butterflies

Look at me, I’m still here for
you don’t walk among the stars today
I’m here so you don’t forget the big questions
of mother earths’ path
do you remember that we gathered from
the great deep
Look at the flight of the stones you cannot see
They hold you in the forest
of Mother Earth

You see? I am the great forest of past thoughts
of people and the dreaming
silence from my feet on the earth
and towards the future

  1. The original English translation reads: ‘I am the forest and this is the Blue.’ There were no words for colours recorded. 

  2. The original English translation reads: ‘of birds and animals.’
    I only know the gendered collective words for animals. 

  3. The original uses ‘fungi’, I’ve used a generic term for mushrooms and fungi.