Raw and Untamed: Art, Not Apart

Image: Hotel Hotel

Art, Not Apart is probably Canberra’s most extreme festival. The highly accolated curators aim to provide art for everyone – from an interactive pottery workshop/instillation that children and adults alike can enjoy, to wild, raunchy and provocative after parties. The aim of the festival is as broad as the audience and range of participating artists, of which there are over 100. The art in the festival will shock you, perplex you or astound you. The events will educate you, stimulate you or make you laugh.

On what Art, Not Apart offers to the Canberra festival culture, Anna Trundle, Program Manager and Curator, emphasised the importance of showcasing and utilising the city itself and its people. All the curators and artists are based in Canberra and have been involved in the Canberra arts scene for many years. This local flavour makes the festival intensely and uniquely Canberran.

One issue that has cropped up in numerous times in previous years is arts funding. Art, Not Apart receives roughly 50 percent of its funding from the Molonglo Group and the rest from the ACT Government, in addition to some private sponsorship. Trundle said that the festival is trying to move away from the instability of government funding that was confirmed only four months prior to the festival. She said, ‘we’re just thankful to have this stability in what is quite an unstable arts funding situation. It’s meant we’ve put on a very strong festival this year as oppose to last year when we were scrambling around with a very late funding commitment. As a free arts festival we’re having to think outside the box and maybe think about having more ticketed events to keep us going financially. Having Fuck Art, Let’s Party on the program was a good step in that direction because it’s self-funded now.’

The selling point of Art, Not Apart appears to be that it is raw and untamed, so its gentrified New Acton setting seems paradoxical. However, Trundle commented that ‘creating art in unexpected places really accentuates the messages behind a lot of these artists works … it’s about activating these extra little spaces that perhaps you are not aware of day to day.’ The festival has also moved from its Westside precinct to the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA). According to Trundle, ‘there’s a real drive to explode with creativity and expression when you’re working in such a historically important place.’

Another new venue for the festival is a Fyshwick warehouse that is to be transformed into a grungy, techno after party. It’s a huge alternative, electronic BYO party with free shuttles running to and from the city till sunrise, need I say more? Fuck Art, Let’s Party!

Ultimately for Trundle, Art Not Apart is about ‘not fitting into a particular box, it’s about expanding the arts into everyone’s lives. Breaking down boundaries, making every art piece, every performance, every installation accessible to everyone from different backgrounds, of all ages. Really making it as inclusive as possible. Bringing everyone together, in one day and trying to tick every box in some way. It’s wild, it’s intense. It’s sprawling and rambling but it’s concentrated in this intimate space.’

If you didn’t make it to the festival on Saturday, Anna and David Williams – ANU’s own Humanities Research Centre Adjunct Professor in the Research School of Humanities and the Arts, Previously Director of the Australia Council Crafts Board and Director of the ANU School of Art – have curated Shake It Up at Nishi Gallery featuring a mix of established and emerging Canberra artists, including a number from ANU, which will run for over a week.

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