BY DANIEL JARAMILLO.
The month of March brings the start of an annual contemporary art festival in Sydney known as Art Month. Art galleries around the suburbs of Redfern, Chippendale and Surry Hills band together to showcase up-and-coming visual artists and it’s great fun for people who are interested in exploring the more creative side of Sydney. There are 15 art galleries that are hosting Art Month this year with the festival bringing talks, tours, exhibitions, sales of collectors items and family activities throughout the venues.
Art Month kicked off very successfully last week by hosting the Art At Night program, which allows the public to explore galleries between 6-8pm with walking tours, drinks, live music and performances. This however is only just the beginning of a month long festival which attracts thousands of people to the city to enjoy the creative spirit and adventure of art and culture.
Hosting a month of art-centric events also disproves the assumption that Sydney doesn’t embrace the arts as much as that other place down south; clearly there are many talented artists and gallery owners in Sydney who are enthusiastic to get their work shown and showcase great art in public spaces.
One of the galleries hosting Art Month is Galerie Pompom in Chippendale which is putting on several shows including solo exhibitions by Chris Dolman (painting and ceramics), and Genevieve Felix Reynolds (painting) which continue until Sunday March 12. Both artists will also give talks at the gallery this Saturday from 3pm. In the following weeks from Thursday March 16 two further solo exhibitions by Mason Kimber and Adam Norton will encapsulate the space with these artists also giving talks on Sunday March 19 at 12pm.
When asked what galleries can do to peak public interested in original works of art Galerie Pompom manager Samantha Ferris said, “Galleries can be more approachable and educate the public about how to start collecting, by finding where the emerging early and mid-career artists are showing the artworks are more affordable and contemporary.”
Art has an ancient history but it also has a present-day story and as a contemporary art festival, Art Month draws attention to the fact that the meaning of modern art is always changing and evolving. Ferris calls modern art “the vibrancy of the new” which is a philosophy Galerie Pompom embraced from the beginning in 2012. Galerie Pompom have always chosen artists at the beginning of their careers which Ferris justified by saying “by letting people know where an artist’s career begins, the public can then take an interest in and become involved in watching the growth of an artist’s career.”
For young and up-and-coming artists festivals like Art Month can be a great chance to take their careers to the next level. This is where Ambush Gallery’s newest project comes to the forefront.
Ambush Gallery as part of Australia’s Harmony Day (International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an initiative by The United Nations) is hosting an art project called Harmony Art Collective, a collaboration between Ambush Gallery, SBS and the department of social services. The idea being to showcase the artistic work of over 300 migrants aged between 15-24 years of age who have created their own murals to tell their stories.
Bill Dimas director of Ambush Gallery said, “We pitched the idea for creating something new for Harmony Day by engaging with first generation Australians and recently resettled migrants to engage them in workshops mentored by four of Australia’s top street artists.”
One of the main themes explored in this humanitarian project is identity, as the artists are encouraged to open themselves up to express their views and experiences. Most of the young migrants involved in the project come from war torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and The Congo and their murals subsequently portray images of war, destruction, conflict and human separation.
“Using art as therapy is giving them new skills and exploring ideas in their minds that can be brought to light through the expression of art” says Dimas.
With the Australian population gaining a distasteful apathy towards humanitarian causes this project is an attempt to bring the human element back into our collective consciousness and see these migrants and refugees as human beings rather than an economic cost.
In The Harmony Art Collective project the art is a visual language that expresses people’s past and present with a vision of peace and harmony for the future. The art also educates its audience about the places young migrants come from and the gratitude they feel to be living in Australia, while simultaneously not forgetting the realities of displacement and their experiences growing up in war torn countries.
If you want to find some inspiration or just have a good time exploring the art world of Sydney do yourself a favour and visit one of the 15 galleries hosting Art Month events or exhibitions between now and the end of March.
Art Month Sydney runs until Mar 31 with detailed information available at http://www.artmonthsydney.com.au
City Hub’s Highlights
Galerie Pompom, 39 Abercrombie St, Chippendale.
Harmony Art Collective. OPEN at Darling Quarter, 1 Harbour Street, Sydney. FREE.
Official Opening, Mar 14. Monkey Baa Theatre, Terrace 3, 1-25 Harbour St, Sydney.