With Vivid Sydney now under way, there are lighting installations all around Circular Quay and at various other city locations. In Barangaroo, a luminous six-metre puppet called Marri Dyin is making her mark in a beautiful installation called The Liminal Hour.

The Liminal Hour. All photographs © Daniel Boud

Marri Dyin (pronounced Muhr-ee Djin and meaning Great Woman) will appear three times each night during Vivid at Barangaroo’s Wulugul Walk between 6pm and 9pm. Watching her emerge last night, the audience gathered round her quickly and was clearly delighted as a team of puppeteers helped raise her to her feet. Inflated and filled with lights which change to different hues during her journey, she is a gorgeous, almost ghostly yet colourful presence as she moves slowly along the foreshore accompanied by a evocative score by James Brown. Her “skin” was based on the pubescent glow of an oyster shell, said one of her creators Scott Wright, Artistic Director of Erth. Her eyes seem to open and close, and she uses her hands to touch trees and reach out to the people around her.

The Liminal Hour, which is enjoying its world premiere, is free and a great event for families. It was created by a collaborative team including Erth Visual & Physical Inc., a renowned theatre company who have been making puppetry-based productions for over 25 years, designer Jacob Nash (who is currently the Head Designer at Bangarra Dance Theatre) James Brown and lighting and visual design company Mandylight.

On her journey, Marri Dyin fills the air with sound and light as she tells a simple story about regeneration through fire and water. We find her first resting in peaceful bushland then generating a fire (during which she turns red) then a storm before new new life is born – a cycle symbolising regeneration and hope. It’s beautifully done, with audiences following her quietly as she goes, with Brown’s music filling the air and building dramatically for the fire. The puppet then sits to engage with children and other visitors – a lovely moment as people reach out to her to share their secrets, hopes and dreams.

The creators emphasise that Marri Dyin is not a traditional spirit but a contemporary concept, created to recognise the influence and importance of the First Nations women, including Barangaroo herself, who lived in Sydney prior to settlement.

At an event last night, Sandra Bender, Barangaroo Executive Director, Activation and Precinct Manager, said that the precinct had been keen to hold a distinct event that worked “to leverage the innovation that is Australia and say what is our story to people that don’t know us. We wanted something that was special and make our presence felt but that suited Vivid,” she said, explaining that they talked to Taronga Zoo about their Lights for the Wild animal light sculptures created for Vivid to help inspire them.

Wright, said: “Marri Dyin is a spirit of immense power, but she takes counsel from those of us with the smallest voices. It is my hope that through this work we convey the desire for a future where all are equal regardless of gender, race or beliefs. When you experience this work, you’ll see a mixed group of people, whose combined voice affirms and honours the fact that together we stand on the land of the oldest continuously living culture. Therefore a process of ongoing consultation continues with members of the First National community because valuing this in everything we do, is the key to our future.”

Watching Marri Dyin last night, Wright said he was incredibly moved as he watched children and adults engage with the puppet. It did indeed make your spirit sing.


The Liminal Hour plays from 6pm – 9pm nightly until June 16 at Wulugul Walk, Barangaroo