Arts & Entertainment

Igniting The Flames Of Creativity

Fire often has a mythical aura of either destruction or rebirth surrounding it. Something which makes it the perfect artistic medium to represent the creative community of Sydney’s Inner West at the upcoming EDGE Sydenham event.
Over the course of the next two weekends, the Inner West Council has partnered with the local creative community to create an event which celebrates “the creative engine of global Sydney.” Throughout the two weekends, EDGE will showcase the cutting edge creatives and fuel support for those artists to not just survive but to thrive long into the future. 
EDGE Sydenham follows on from the success of similar prior events by the Inner West Council, under the EDGE Inner West banner. In March this year EDGE Greenway was a mighty success for that particular section of the council area. Something which the council hopes to replicate with EDGE Sydenham.
“The festival celebrates urban artists and cultural life, bringing together the industrial and creative arts industries of Sydenham showcasing where art is made, who is making it and why it matters,” said Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne.
Sydenham, in particular, is a special creative precinct, which is also incredibly fragile according to Amanda Buckland, Living Arts Manager at Inner West Council.
“Sydenham is home to hundreds of studios, galleries, performance venues and arts businesses. Thousands of creatives live work and play in the inner west, with one in 10 residents working in creative industries and many more are artists, musicians, performers, makers and designers. However, as more industrial land is rezoned as residential it is becoming less affordable and its users are restricted, which is threatening the creative ecosystem of our cities by forcing creatives into the city fringes.”
It is this forced migration into the fringes which spawned the EDGE concept and name. The festival title EDGE refers to EDGE species a conservation term meaning Ecologically Distinct and Globally Endangered which can equally refer to artists living in urban environments. By providing these ‘EDGE’ artists with a platform to showcase their work to the local community it is hoped that the community will develop a bond which will see them supporting the creative community beyond just the festival environment.
Throughout the two-weekend event, Sydneysiders will be able to attend a wide array of events. The first weekend will consist of the popular Creative Trails, weaving around over 40 artist spaces plus guided tours, exhibitions, installations and street art/theatre, underground spaces, loads of live music and parties.
Whilst the first weekend is centred around the quiet self-discovery of local creativity the second weekend is much bolder and boisterous. Headlining the second weekend will be two major art installations which honour the proud working past of Sydenham and St Peters as industrial artists are inspired by metal and fire. 
Firstly the vibrant ElectroSK8 at Sydenham Skate Park will see over 24 artists in partnership with the University of Sydney Design Lab create a collision between humans, creativity and technology which transforms the concrete playground of the skate park into an electronic wonderland of movement, technology, art and light.
Then to close out EDGE Sydenham the hair-raising finale fuelled by Sydney’s most dynamic creatives, Tortuga Studios, will present the Fire Garden. This event at Sydenham Green Park will roar into life as the sun sinks over the horizon and over 40 artists fire-based installations, interactive works, sculptures, projections, live music, DJ’s, campfires and more ignite and light up the night sky.
In the past, Ran Stanton the Director of Tortuga Studios and his team have created larger individual sculptural works for Sculpture By The Sea and various music festivals. However, the Fire Garden will be the biggest fire-based sculpture they have showcased within the city. When speaking with City Hub, Stanton spoke of the importance of having council backing for such an ambitious project.
“To put on any display or festival in the city is very hard. There are a lot of hoops that you need to jump through, so it’s nice to be working with, and having the backing of, council because it makes it that little bit easier.”
During the conversation, Stanton also spoke of his excitement to be a part of the EDGE Sydenham event. 
“Events like these are incredibly important because they are what brings the creative community together. So we love that there are new arts festivals and events coming along that council are putting a lot of time and energy into.”
For Stanton, he is excited to see how the two crowds from ElectroSK8 and the Fire Garden interact, “ElectroSK8 and us both have very specific types of crowds so I’m looking forward to those two crossing over and enjoying each other’s shows.”
Looking longterm both Stanton and the Inner West Council would like to see EDGE Inner West continue indefinitely whilst also expanding its reach. In order to do so though they need community support.
In closing, Stanton does have one suggestion for all attendees, “Come along and support the artists. But don’t wear a nylon tracksuit!”

Aug 2-11. Various Venues/Locations. Info: www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au

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