Our Dreaming: Animating Country @ State Library Queensland | The Review

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland


The undercover lobby area of the State Library is a flurry of activity: school holidays have hit and mums across Brisbane are packing strollers and lunches in their cars and hitting Brisbane up for the best it can offer. Mr 6, Mr 4 and I step through the double doors of the Our Dreaming: animating country exhibition…and I exhale. Instantly the noise and bustle of outside dissolves as we are enveloped in the cool, dark and enchanting world of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

The large room is alive with colours and vibrant animations, and yet a sense of peace and calm prevails. My boys are instantly drawn to one of the many blank walls onto which animated Aboriginal stories are projected and they literally immerse themselves in the stories – dancing and playing with their shadows.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

It isn’t long until Mr 6 settles into one of the many soft carpet mats and pillows laid out for people to enjoy the main screen where traditional stories narrated by people from the relevant tribes are accompanied by simple but striking animation. He is captivated and is hard to coax away for the remainder of our visit. He had previously negotiated for us to only stay “one hour maximum” but quickly asked upon settling in if we could actually stay “as long as we want”.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

Mr 4 is…not so zen. He zooms around the room, stopping briefly to check out what has Mr 6 transfixed but then scoots to admire the long spindly legs of the collective butterfly sculpture, dance with his shadows once more before spying the ultimate way toddler magnet; a table of iPads. The app he finds allows him to draw and create till his heart is content then we move on to colouring our own butterfly to contribute to the flutter already soaring above our heads. He requested we coloured ours with a rainbow pattern (inspired by the Rainbow Serpent animation? I can dream!) and was proud to stick it on to the sculpture to fly with its friends.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

My Mr 4 is an energetic one and kept wriggling off my lap – today he wanted to run, run, run! We removed his shoes to dampen the noise but after a few laps I encouraged him to ask the man supervising if he was allowed to run. Thank you to the kind State Library employee who humoured my boisterous little fellow and said that so long as he ran carefully and didn’t bump anything he was free to burn his toddler enthusiasm fuel.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

It took some negotiating, but eventually I was able to prise Mr 6 off his comfortable mat and we kept exploring: up to the Phillip Bacon Heritage Gallery to try our hand at some animation ourselves! This area is smaller and brighter but still feels calm.

The setup is wonderful – children can access animation cells and are supplied with an array of puppets, plasticine and pipe cleaners to bring their stories to life. The technology is amazing and using a special app, the budding animists are encouraged to take a series of photos to turn into a movie.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

There are more screens up here playing short films of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander movies, these ones with headphones. A cascade of colourful fabric creates a hideaway cave for little people and Mr 4 dives in and pretends it’s his home.

Our Dreaming exhibition at the State Library of Queensland

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, oral storytelling traditions means that in these modern times their stories are at risk of being lost and forgotten forever. It’s fascinating to see how the latest technology is serving as a bridge between past and present; forever preserving these fascinating cultural stories and connecting indigenous children today with their ancestors.

Brisbane Kids Reviews By Kids, For Kids

Our very special 6 (almost 7!) year old reviewer tells you what he thought of his visit to Our Dreaming: Animating Country in this Through the Eyes of Brisbane Kids exclusive video –

Our Dreaming is currently running daily at the State Library of Queensland until the 9th of June 2014. Admission is free. Please visit the State Library of Queensland website for further information, including opening times, special events and competitions.

For more information regarding the State Library of Queensland’s permanent family-friendly space, take a look at our page on The Corner.

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