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A sense of deep time resonates through this composition, which represents over 60,000 years of human history on the Australian continent.

Deep Time by the Grigoryan Brothers 05:19

See the Grigoryan Brothers’ performance of Deep Time at the National Museum.The ground piece of haematite (ochre) from Madjedbebe rock shelter, Arnhem Land was photographed with the permission of Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Long, angular and stretched-out chords convey a stillness. The music quite literally draws on the concept of rock – stylistically referring to rock formations, physical changes to the landscape over time and the very materiality of ochre.

Slava and Leonard Grigoryan inspect a small piece of ochre being held in hand wearing conservation gloves.

Slava and Leonard with the ground piece of haematite (ochre)

Arnhem Land

This ground piece of haematite (ochre) is from the Madjedbebe rock shelter site, deep in the heart of Mirarr Country in Arnhem Land.

Aboriginal artefacts from Madjedbebe have been dated to 65,000 years ago, making them the oldest evidence of human history in Australia.

These artefacts are a significant part of Mirarr people’s cultural heritage. Traditional law and custom applies to them, including the right to control their use and their images.

Please contact the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation at to request permission to reproduce, use or publish any image or photograph of these items.

Deep Time

A piece of haematite (ochre) from the Madjedbebe rock shelter in Arnhem Land and how this important object inspired the Grigoryan Brothers composition. Courtesy ABC Classic
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Presenters: Slava and Leonard Grigoryan with Margo Neale and Alice Keath

In our collection

Piece of Australian red ochrePiece of Australian red ochre.
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