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A rewilding in sound

Experience Breathing Space, an evocative sound installation created for the Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum of Australia.

Composed by renowned musician Genevieve Lacey, Breathing Space pays homage to the deep time and ecological abundance of our continent, the ancient, vibrant cultures of First Nations Australians and the waves of migration that have shaped the land.

Wander through the Garden and discover sounds and melodies that change subtly, hour by hour, day by day, season by season. Whenever and wherever you are in the Garden, you will hear something new.

Support the acquisition of Breathing Space through the Museum’s 2023 Annual Appeal.

Breathing Space 5:15

Genevieve Lacey is an Australian composer and recorder virtuoso who connects people and ideas through sound. Her poetic, musical works and performances are experienced worldwide in concert halls and theatres, as public art and in the digital realm.

Explore the six zones

Breathing Space is designed to be heard both in passing and pausing. Six zones – field, living room, bush, cloister, trees and tunnel – each with its own cast of musical and natural characters, join to create a gallery of sound.

The soundtrack is available via ABC Classic. Buy the CD at the Museum Shop.

Field is a gathering place of sound featuring elements of all the zones overlaid by the voice of Yorta Yorta Dja Dja Wurrung artist Lou Bennett speaking the words of Alexis Wright and singing a Yorta Yorta response – imilang, yinya (‘here/now’ and ‘light’).

The living room is filled with the sound of vocals and plucked strings from the qanun, guzheng, theorbo and guitar that reverberate inside the space before falling away at the end of each hour.

Bush is composed of frog calls accompanied by passages of music and whip bird calls created on violin, viola and kora.

Cloister echoes with the whispered words of Alexis Wright, singing, organ solos and the sounds of wind, gongs and percussion instruments.

Trees is characterised by the buzzing and clicking of cicadas, underpinned by drifts of a vocal solo by Sunny Kim. In summer, the cicada sounds are from field recordings. In winter, they are mimicked by percussion instruments.

Tunnel interweaves trumpet and harp solos by Phil Slater and Marshall McGuire; drone sounds; owl, koala and possum calls; and subterranean stirrings and rumblings.

A single white earbud.

For people who are hard of hearing this audio loop was designed by the Breathing Space team to enhance their experience in the physical space. Available from 9am to 1am Canberra local time daily.


Breathing Space was commissioned by the National Museum of Australia, with support from UKARIA, Playking, Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria and City of Melbourne.

Logos for ABC Classic, Australia Council for the Arts, Ukaria, Creative Victoria, Playking Foundation, Additive and Arts & Parts.ABC Classic

Read the Museum's media release on Breathing Space.

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