– by Elizabeth Abbott
Art Not Apart is a street festival held regularly throughout the year in the spaces surrounding New Acton, attracting a variety of Canberran artists and performers. Don’t allow the pretentiousness of the event’s marketing to discourage you: Art Not Apart proves to be an enjoyable day out for families, young people and arty folk alike. While there is a strong creative focus at the festival, New Acton delivers in providing entertainment and activities for all interests, with market stalls, live music, slam poetry performances and art exhibitions just a handful of the events on offer: there was so much to do that attendees benefited from planning ahead.
Art tied together the many areas of the festival, in particular white mesh sculptures featured throughout the stages as well as an abundance of colour: striped beach chairs surrounded the central stage while bright graffiti punched through once-grey walls. No space was left barren and you only had to walk a few feet to arrive at something different and new.
For families and creatives the public paste-up wall was a highlight as kids and grownups got to see their drawings made into street art on the spot. Ninja turtles, cats and rocket ships adorned the previously blank wall whilst further down the laneway artists including Mike Watt painted walls live in front of crowds, providing a dynamic space to sit back and relax.
Two stages played host to film festivals on the day including Palace Electric’s French film festival and the short film festival, both of which provided welcome respite from the jostling laneway crowds. Meanwhile on the central stage there was a constant rotation of live bands and poets, including Canberra local Raphael Kabo, who captivated the audience with humorous references to the ubiquitous street art that populates Civic (in particular the giant goon bag of Garema Place).
Art Not Apart explores the connections between audience and art. The day works to encourage the public to engage with art, but its let-down in this mission by its overly-intellectual marketing scheme. If you headed along anyway you were bound to have a great time, and that’s what matters in the end, right?