A Festival Apart

Lit up by a burst of rare Canberra sunlight, Art, Not Apart brought visual artists, musicians, face-painters, food vendors and curious wanderers together in NewActon Precinct last Saturday. The event aimed to celebrate the process of creating art, and featured live painting, market stalls, short films, live graffiti, interactive artworks and live music.

The area was a flurry of activity; around every corner there was another artist doing his or her thing. On Central Stage, we heard beat-boxing from the Joe Oppenheimer Band, found ourselves mesmerised by the swaying hips of Brazilian samba dancers, and listened to the musical talent of the Canberra Symphony String Quintet.

Art, Not Apart is the brainchild of David Caery, a Philosophy Honours student at the ANU. “Art is not just viewed, art is lived,” commented Caffrey. “It only gains force if the person who views it also lives it”. Unlike a gallery, Art, Not Apart displays the artwork from start to finish, involving the view in its creative process. Abyss, a Canberra-based street artist, was one of the participating artists at the event and appreciated the diversity of the art on show. As an artist who usually works under the cover of darkness, he said that the experience of painting in plain view of others was a very different experience.

A few metres down the path, small kids (and some bigger kids – these writers included) were queuing up to have their faces painted by Mira Melaluca. Having just completed a Psychology degree, Melaluca is interested in the therapeutic power of art. “I’m really interested in colours and chakras,” she said. “The sensation of painting on someone’s skin is very personal and the different colours you wear shapes the way you seem to other people.”

The way in which Melaluca unapologetically acknowledged the power of art was a common theme of the day. At one point, a woman painted a sombre portrait on a pane of glass beside the string quintet, who were playing Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. Pretentious? Yes. Beautiful? Definitely.

It would be all too easy to dismiss the day as an artsy wankfest, but that misses the point entirely. This kind of event is most enjoyable when all skepticism is thrown to the wind and the artistic talent on offer is embraced whole-heartedly. Caery and his team’s efforts demonstrated Canberra’s potential for a thriving and evolving arts scene. Or at the very least, a chance to have your face painted like a tiger for a day.

 

By Farz Edraki and Jess Millen.