Deep inside Australia’s Red Centre lies its beating heart. The vital organ is not small, or soft, and certainly not fragile. Instead, it is enormous, resolute, and beats to the rhythm of a sacred, ancient beat, 600 million years old. Nearly three decades ago, Bruce Munro, a British artist, camped outside Uluru and recalls feeling this pulsation, one he described as “a charge in the air”, an incredible energy that seemed to radiate from the red desert.
Uluru, to the untrained eye, is a gigantic monolith. The scientists call it an inselberg, meaning an isolated hill or mountain rising abruptly from a plain. To the Anangu people, the traditional owners of the land, it is a living being, a keeper of their traditions, carrying tales of the ancestry of the world etched in stone, without which they’d be lost. To take even a fragment of the holy rock is to invite a lifetime of bad luck – the curse of Uluru.
Rising 348 metres above the burnished red desertscape and running 3.5 kilometres long, Uluru astounds with its immensity. But what is visible to the naked eye is, quite literally, just the tip of the iceberg. Two-thirds of the rock is said to lie beneath the earth.
A monument like that deserves to be worshiped and respected with the Field of Light Uluru exhibition a fitting tribute. Like the veins of the life-giving organ, 50,000 swaying spindles topped with frosted glass globes, harness the sun’s energy to illuminate an area the size of four football fields.
Designed by Bruce Munro, the spectacular light exhibition is known as 'Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku' by the locals, meaning ‘looking at lots of beautiful lights’. Indeed it is a lot of beautiful lights. The solar-powered stems and bulbs were specially brought in from the United Kingdom, and it took 40 people six weeks to install them.
During the day, the sun transforms the ancient rock with its every move, from umber brown in the afternoon to flaming red in the evening. When dusk begins to drape the Red Centre in her cloak of velvety darkness, so thick you couldn’t see your hand if you held it before your face, you can still feel its palpable, spiritual aura.
As night sets in, several million stars in the clear skies proudly shine down upon Uluru, revealing an imposing silhouette of the great guardian of the land. While closer to the ground, the iridescent otherworldly exhibition pays a silent homage, pleasantly glimmering like fairy wings from a scene straight out of A
Mid-Summer Night’s Dream.