Art, Not Apart

Art, Not Apart

Art, Not Apart has taken the cultural scene by storm since first sweeping through NewActon three years ago. Emma Kelly talks to a slew of artists helping get the annual festival off the ground ahead of the fourth instalment in March.

Canberra's Art, Not Apart entered the fray with a vision of inclusion.

Molonglo Group events manager and cultural co-ordinator David Caffrey founded the bustling festival with the aim of connecting different perspectives rather than targeting a particular demographic; bringing people together through quality art.

Art, Not Apart.

Art, Not Apart.

As Canberra's arts scene has expanded Art, Not Apart has grown with it, shining a light on local talent alongside acts from interstate. The birth of NewActon as a thriving arts base has only just begun and as more spaces pop up, more opportunities appear.

But the festival wouldn't be possible without the hard work of the artists involved – both in person and behind the scenes. Each brings a passion, not just for their art, but for reaching out to Canberra and beyond.

Art, Not Apart.

Art, Not Apart.

Chris Dalzell aka Walrus – Street artist

There's no doubt Chris Dalzell, aka Walrus, has been a trailblazer of Canberra's arts scene for some time.

Art, Not Apart has allowed the renowned street artist, known for his trademark colour and patterns, with a large platform to test his skills against real-time feedback.

The festival has seen him develop his work on large, clear sheets of plastic, each event signalling a new twist.

"I was looking at bringing something different to the street art scene than painting art on walls," Dalzell says.

"This year I have been testing some ideas, blending colours to create depth with perspectival patterns to push and pull a 3D impression into the work. It's great to get out there and get feedback."

But the festival has had a far wider impact.

For artists it's the opportunity to put a face to their work and engage with the public; for the community, Art, Not Apart is an eye-opener to the breadth and depth of talent on our doorstep.

"Canberra's cultural side is being reborn in a way. I think Art, Not Apart has been an important part of that movement," Dalzell says.

"On a personal level, I think most artists are a bit introverted. The Art, Not Apart Festival allows people to get their art out there – it's a liberating experience for artists.

"Some people see art as just drawings or paintings and may not realise the scope of art and activity out there. Art, Not Apart allows people to go to one place and view all different kinds of art."

Martin Ollman – Photographer

There's a lot more to Canberra that meets the eye, or the lens, according to Martin Ollman.

Ollman's passion for capturing the capital's hidden treasures and people is a perfect fit for a festival dedicated to bringing people together in celebration of an element of Canberra life often left out of popular conception – Canberra's bourgeoning art scene.

"Photography has allowed me to get out and experience a new way," Ollman says. "It's been a bit of an awakening, the fact so many things haven't really been photographed."

Ollman, who is regularly involved in NewActon as well as the recent CBR rebranding, returned to the capital from a stint in the United Kingdom a few years ago and describes his camera as a gateway to discovering his current home.

He has both photographed and featured photography in Art, Not Apart since its inception – fittingly, thanks to friends in the industry – and says the festival has filled a void in Canberra's art scene.

"It seems to be an unmissable event, purely because of the people involved and the art scene in Canberra," he said.

"It certainly stood out because it had a lot of public art and engaged a lot more of the public. I think it's a great opportunity."

Chenoeh Miller – Little Dover Theatre Art artistic director

Chenoeh Miller describes working in NewActon as akin to a kid visiting a candy store – the opportunities are endless.

Miller will oversee the second instalment of the Art, Not Apart after party Sound and Fury.

The eight-hour soiree is like a street party on steroids consisting of an array of performance art, dancing and a bar.

"Performance art is such a hard term but it really covers art that aims to speak directly to the community – art born from listening to the community," Miller says.

"It can range from dance to music to speaking directly to the audience. It's usually edgy and quite out there."

Miller said it was important artists continued to engage with wider public through events such as Art, Not Apart and break barriers.

"Art needs to move on – it needs to engage the community as it has done throughout history," she says.

"Art, Not Apart is such a fantastic festival. It raises the bar of what the audience can expect in performances and art. I guess last year was such a success thanks to the audience so we're looking at something larger [this year]. There will be some twists."

Allan Geddes – Artist and craftsman

Allan Geddes spends much of each day working in the digital arena, so the opportunity to create practical and tangible items is a welcome escape.

Geddes' distinct creations have captured the attention of passersby during the past three Art, Not Apart festivals and are a perfect fit to what is a celebration of alternative art forms.

"My work generally has an old world feel, roughly of the Edwardian/Victorian era and I often work in the steampunk fantasy art genre so that I can indulge my love of detailed patterning rather than the currently more common minimalist ethos," he says.

Geddes' designs, including last year's giant robot, are influenced by baroque patterns and textiles found in fantasy computer games and film props.

Although this year's project is still up in the air, Geddes is thinking big and suspects it will involve wood and an old world feel.

Emma Kelly is Canberra Times reporter.

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