Arrkanala Lyilhitjika: The Joy of Singing

Susie Lang attended The Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, Arrkanala Lyilhitjika: The Joy of Singing, at Olsen Gruin Art Gallery, on Thursday July 5th 2018. She shares how profoundly moved she was by the performance.

Recently, when I travelled back to my home-state of South Australia, I watched “Australian Story” on the ABC with my mother, which featured the Central Australian Aboriginal Australian Women’s Choir. I felt very moved and inspired by hearing stories and voices of these extraordinary women who gathered under the direction of Morris Stuart. Their common powerful connection through heritage and their music is in their “joy of singing”.  

Image by Susie Lang,

When AWNY advertised an event with a performance by the same choir on July 5, 2018, I jumped at the opportunity to get my ticket. The event was produced by AWNY co-president Kate Lee and our events team.  

It was an evening that cut to my core. Their music touched my soul, rich in the liberation, harmony, empowerment and connection to their ancestry, heritage, culture and a deep sense of their spirituality. In between the music I photographed the women and their obvious musical joy. Mostly shy in front of my camera and in conversation with me, I felt that I needed to learn a new way of being in relation with some of the women I spoke with. Perhaps we were both cautious of our uncertainty. Perhaps the beginning of my connection was through their harmony and melodies of music. While I could hear music and song, a also appreciated the color and vibrancy of the Indigenous Art that was displayed in the Olsen Gruin Gallery, the host for the event. I feel I am simply an observer. This creates my distance. It’s as if I need to be still in their space and not view them from behind my lens.  

Image by Susie Lang,

I captured some of these extraordinary women and men, the colors of the fabrics copied from local artists who made brightly colored “uniforms”. I captured their facial details and expressions before, through and after their performance, listening to conversations, the joy of interaction between different Australian cultures and women. I have a lot to learn.

Image by Susie Lang,

I will send some of my images to the women of the choir as my thanks to them. This was a truly rich experience for me, full of appreciation in the joys of this event with loads of questioning about my Australianism. I realize how much I don’t know!

Arrkanala Lyilhitjika
Image by Susie Lang,


A big thank you to Olsen Gruin Gallery for hosting this event. Visit their gallery to see their Beyond the Veil exhibit of indigenous art, extended to August 12, 2018.

Written by Susie Lang.  All images by Susie lang,


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Author: Australian Women in New York

Australian Women in New York (AWNY) sources stories and guides that will help make you win the Big Apple. We also love to profile fabulous Aussie and Kiwi women.

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