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Sanctuary by The Echoes Project

January 21 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


“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: 

Image credit: Echoes Project. Photo by Max Milne.


Ria Soemardjo is a Melbourne based musician with a passion for collaborating with artists across diverse range of genres and artforms. Born in Melbourne, her  distinct, haunting vocals and instrumental compositions reflect her Australian/Indonesian cultural heritage.

Over the last 10 years, Ria has created and performed music for a wide range of independent contemporary dance, theatre and mixed media  projects in Australia and Asia.

Facebook: Ria Soemardjo
Instagram: @riasoemardjo


(Jon)Pongjit Saphakhun, is an actress, playwright, director, and facilitator now based in Melbourne. Jon is an awarded Thai actress and has emerged as one of Thailand’s outstanding artistic directors. Having grown up in a village in the east of Thailand, she has maintained a strong grassroots commitment, and has been a core member of the Makhampom Theatre Group since 1989.

Music – Khene(Thai reed instrument)/percussion

Ron Reeves is a percussionist, multi-instrumentalist, educator and composer who has worked with a hugely diverse range of musicians and groups around the world. Ron has maintained a strong connection with Indonesia since 1977, collaborating with many highly respected Indonesian musicians – in   traditional, pop and jazz worlds.


Max Milne is an award winning photographer. For Max image making is an act of transforming the world by creating images the naked eye cannot see. Having worked with industry leaders on national and international advertising campaigns, Max brings together his technical skills and passion for storytelling to create commissioned works in the creative and commercial contexts. Max’s unique way of creating images is informed by his training as an art therapist and previous career as an award winning performance artist.


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

Featured image credit: Sanctuary Photo by Max Milne. Design by Janette Hoe.





January 21
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm