ANCIENT STORIES: Illuminating the Australian National Maritime Museum

As the nights grow longer in late May, Sydney's Darling Harbour will come alive with Barani, a breathtaking new light projection experience at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Part of the annual Vivid Sydney festival, Barani uses cutting-edge digital animation to tell an ancient Indigenous story from the land now known as Sydney Cove.

The immersive experience, which will illuminate the museum's rooftop nightly from May 24 through June 15, promises a profound exploration of humanity's connection with the natural world. Developed by the Sydney studio Gilay, Barani (meaning "yesterday" in the local Gadigal language) depicts a mother and son's coming-of-age narrative set 500 years ago in pre-colonial Warrane.

Through a unique blend of contemporary illustration and traditional iconography, the tale juxtaposes this ancient time of harmony between humans and the land with our modern, often discordant relationship with nature. As audiences watch the story unfold against the backdrop of today's urban skyline, we're prompted to reconsider the deep histories of the ground beneath our feet.

"Barani provides a new way to see the land on which we stand today," explains Museum Director Daryl Karp. "This story from long-ago Sydney Harbour reminds us to connect more deeply with the world around us and heed the wisdom of First Nations peoples who protected it for generations."

The bittersweet narrative, rich with historical and cultural significance, follows a young man's journey towards independence intertwined with powerful environmental themes. His relationship with his mother explores the threads of love, compassion and humanity's inextricable links to nature. The creators aim to deliver an authentic experience honouring the original custodians of this land.

Over a third of the team at Studio Gilay are Indigenous artists and storytellers committed to diverse and honest representation. "Through this moving story, we invite viewers to examine our current relationship to country and reconsider the history under our feet," says co-founder Jake Duczynski.

Visitors can take in Barani from prime viewing spots like Pyrmont Bridge or King Street Wharf as part of Vivid's legendary Light Walk. The museum will also offer indoor screenings throughout the festival's 23-night run from May 24 to June 15.

As the radiant tale dances across the night sky, it serves as a stunning reminder to stop, listen, look, learn and protect the natural world around us - wisdom just as relevant now as it was centuries ago.