Charcoal drawing animation, Aboriginal storytelling, film making and astronomy, will all come together to create 'we are all made of' STARDUST a regional, projections project. Stardust will use the magic of the night sky as a catalyst to explore Aboriginal and Western Culture stories of the constellations and the dark spaces in between. These stories will then be reinterpreted and portrayed through charcoal drawing animations - interwoven with timelapse photography of the night sky to create a short film.

The project will use stories and interpretations of the night sky, along with an opportunity to view constellations through a telescope as a catalyst for the creation of a series of charcoal drawing animations.

There are many different stories about interpreting the night sky - Western culture which revolves around the stars themselves, and Aboriginal culture with a focus on the black spaces in between. In basic science terms, all elements in the universe are made of stars. As humans, we are all made up of various elements – carbon, nitrogen, calcium, and trace elements etc. Fundamentally, all the elements in our bodies originated from the stars - we are all made of stardust. It is these elements and matter within us that makes the stars such a magical and fascinating exploration. It's part of being human.

Aboriginal people have long used storytelling and metaphor to explain scientific or natural occurrences. These stories will help crystallise the idea of turning something into something else – helping develop the skills of using imagination and metaphor in the creation of stories.

The medium of charcoal drawing lends itself particularly well to this project. The dark spaces explored in Aboriginal storytelling are created by charcoal dust – on paper, charcoal can be as the dark of the night sky. The white spaces of the stars can be brought back to life, by rubbing back and returning and using the white paper itself. There is a synergy between charcoal drawing and the two different ways of looking at the night sky.

After learning about the night sky and taking part in a star gazing event, participants in this project will work with artist Zhen Chew to create a new story, based on their experiences, understandings and feelings of the stars. Zhen will facilitate a charcoal drawing animation through the use of time lapse photography to reveal their interpretation of the stories told.

There will be regional community groups participating in this project across NSW. Film maker Helen Newman will edit each stop motion animation, including recording the narration of the stories by the people who created them. The films will not be limited by the stop motion format. Helen will use her skills as a film maker and story teller to create and explore the stories, editing, using split screens, colouring techniques etc, to create short stories of beauty and wonder.

These  individual stories will be woven together along with images by Astrolandscape photographer Gregg Gibbs to create a short film.

This project builds on the successful 'Charcoal Night' project run in 2013– a partnership between Murray Arts, the Albury Wodonga Astronomical Society and Albury Wodonga Community College. In that project, we realised the powerful combination of the arts and science and its ability to engage with young people who were previously disinterested in both. 'Stardust' builds on this success and provides an opportunity to engage with more people across the region, resulting in a short film documentary of the overall experience.

Image credit: Gregg Gibbs 'Beam Me Up' Landscape Astrophotography

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