ACT News

Footloose and fancy-free at the art fair

THE laneways of New Acton were crammed with colourful characters, fringe culture and quirky handmade treasures sold from a suitcase market yesterday.

The Art, Not Apart festival transformed the spaces between the towering buildings in the upmarket suburb to a Melbourne-esque haven of street art, poetry, dancing, music, food, and alternative fashion and flair.

Hundreds of people filled the laneways to saunter past stalls and art displays, including dancer Ashlen Harkness, who drew plenty of attention as she moved through the crowd with her colourful body paint, applied by painter and soul artist Mira Melaluca.

Another artist who turned plenty of heads was a Canberra local who creates works using acrylic-based ink drawn on a large sheet of transparent film.

The artist, who is known simply as ''Walrus'', creates temporary outdoor pieces, which last between 12 and 24 hours.

''I just fill it with a stream of consciousness,'' he said.

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''It's a really tribal, spiritual, visionary art. I've always been very inspired by that.''

The artist hailed the Art, Not Apart festival as a much-needed boost to the culture and heart of Canberra.

''I think it's amazing … this is exactly what Canberra needs,'' he said. ''It's kick-starting the heart of Canberra. People are starting to react to culture, which is awesome.''

This year's festival featured Suitcase Rummage, a miniature market where sellers of handmade and vintage designs offered their wares from suitcases.

One of those sellers was the Braidwood Cobbler, otherwise known as Wilfred Robbie, who sells handmade leather goods at festivals and markets throughout Canberra.

Mr Robbie said Art, Not Apart had a freedom and unique feel that made it quite unlike other Canberra markets.

''It's a lot freer and footloose and fancy-free, as it were.''