Image: Agak-Agak by Janette Hoe. Photos by Damian Vincenzi and Eelin Cheah.

Sanctuary by The Echoes Project


“As a child, growing up in a remote Thai village, actress Jon (Pongjit Saphakhun) recalls a magical time, spending hours playing under a huge fragrant moon fruit tree. Ceremonies in her village were often chaotic, joyful social events, reflecting an intimate, direct  relationship with the natural world – and a deep respect for trees. Now in Melbourne, Jon listens for  this connection in the trees she encounters on her walks.

In ‘Sanctuary’ we are creating a contemporary performance ritual centered around an old tree next to the Merri Creek, sharing our unique creative process in a short video. Our urge to connect more deeply with nature and our local green spaces, compels us to create contemporary performance work that transforms our relationship to urban sites, drawing on personal connection to Asian ceremonial traditions.”

Devised by Ria Soemardjo, multi-layered sound compositions featuring gamelan instruments, voice and Ron Reeves on khene (Thai reed instrument) and percussion, are woven with Jon’s text and movement. Filmed by Max Milne.

The Echoes project is a collective growing out of the long term collaboration of Ria SoemardjoJanette Hoe and Jon (Pongjit Saphakhun) and Ron Reeves. They have performed powerful ritual performances in locations such as Melbourne’s Chinatown laneways, and the Docklands iconic Mission to Seafarer’s site.

You can also watch the artists, Ria Soemardjo and (Jon)Pongjit Saphakhun, in conversation with Adolfo Aranjuez, talking about Sanctuary here:

Sanctuary by The Echoes Project is presented as part of Mapping Melbourne 2020-21.

Principal Partners:
City of Melbourne, Creative Victoria and Australia Council for the Arts

Supporting Partners:

Pivot Residency:
Abbotsford Convent