No-One's Apart

Hanna Hoyne, Wingrower from Cosmic Recharge Series, 2009
Photograph by the author

If you didn’t see David Caffery pacing around New Acton and gesturing at large open spaces late last week then there’s a good chance you have at least heard of or witnessed his brainchild. This year’s Art, Not Apart Festival offered Canberra locals and visitors alike an ever-growing insight into this city’s thriving collective of artists, musicians, performers, poets and more. On Saturday, all contributing artists gave birth to paintings, drawings, structures, words, movements and tunes in an effort to “say something” and engage with those around them.

So how and where do we define and contrast contemporary art, contemporary life, and art as contemporary life? This is what I asked myself as I was suddenly immersed in a bustling stream of interaction and observation. As Mark von Behrens assembles his jenga-like structure of railway sleepers in the John Avery Gardens, punters and festival volunteers scale their way to its summit. Eddie Botha steps back from his canvas on the Art Walk to draw passers by, and Canberra’s well-known Brass Knuckle Brass Band gather the masses with their body-quaking beats

Mental, curated by Chloe Mandryk, ingested the view of south Canberra and discerned the inner mental workings of artists such as Hanna Hoyne and Daniel Savage. Hoyne’s mixed media sculptures leave one aware of their innate desires for comfort and nourishment while Savage brings attention to the movement of mind and body through an ever-active society.

Westside finally blew its lid with an array of local artists and collaborators, including those of ANU’s very own students, working within the confines of the much anticipated precinct of heat-stricken shipping containers and open spaces. The collaborators didn’t hesitate to bring forth a mind-expanding, psychedelic or feminist-charged conversation between their work and the observer.

As the sun descended Westside transformed into an audio-visual playground where bodies were coerced into motion and one could indulge in the rain of fireworks from the overlooking edifice.