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River of Art Festival: More than just a pretty face

Annie Caughey

Ever wanted to paint the town red, literally?

You’ll be able to do just that at the multi-award winning River of Art Festival later this month.

Held over 10 days and bursting with live music, theatre, visual arts, comedy and creative workshops, the River of Art Festival stretches along the picturesque South Coast shoreline, starting in Durras and flowing all the way down to Bermagui.

From 19-28 May, expose yourself to the abundance of hidden talent that exists within this coastal region that proves it’s definitely more than just a pretty face.

“This will be the Festival’s 11th year,” says Chair of the Festival Sue Barford, who has herself been with the Festival for nine years. “I first wanted to be involved because when I arrived in the area I realised it was a hot spot for the arts and the people here come because of the inspiration they get from the pristine environment.”

Photo: James Blakeney

Photo: James Blakeney

“It’s an amazing opportunity for people to see inside the fascinating world of practising artists, especially their open studios because they’re in some of the most amazing hidden locations.”

Over the course of the festival, attendees can indulge in unique cultural experiences that help showcase the extravagant work of local independent artists.

“There’s so much on,” says Sue, explaining that she has trouble picking just a few highlights to look forward to. “We have a wonderful Splinters exhibition – which is beautiful fine woodwork. We have a stand up comedian in Batemans Bay, Kirsty Webeck and we have a liquid art exhibition in Bateman’s Bay which is a whole installation in it’s own right.”

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With over 100 activities to choose from, it’s time to put that beach house to good use and begin planning your family’s very own festival experience.

Here are some of the highlights to help you decide:

Wearable Art 

Wearable art

Put on some flashy sunglasses and grab yourself a front row seat at the 2017 ‘Wearable Art’ fashion show.

This well loved festival event, organised by the Eurobodalla Fibre and Textile Artists Group, is back and ready to spice up the town of Moruya. It will be a night to live the glamorous life, where you can sip on champagne and snack on canapés all whilst admiring the lavish lines created by artists interpreting the theme ‘Flight of Fancy’.

Sunday 21 May from 4pm | St Mary’s Performing Arts Centre, Queens Street, Moruya | Book online at www.riverofart.com.au/ticketing

Art On Parade and Open Studios

Wander through the coastal streets and delve into some stunning displays of art of every kind with everything from floristry to jewellery, paintings, prints, textiles, photography, vintage clothing and homewares on display. Many artists throughout the region will also be opening up their studios to the public, so you can see for yourself where all this magic happens.

Pastel Painting Demonstration

Image: facebook.com/lyn.woolridge

Image: facebook.com/lyn.woolridge

Discover the secrets behind the alluring ‘plein air’ seascapes created by artist Lyn Woolridge in a live demonstration in secluded Lilli Pilli.

Saturday 20 May, 10am–2pm | Beachside Bakery Café, 366 George Bass Drive, Lilli Pilli

The 2017 Busking Championships and the String Family

Street performers of the best sort will travel from all corners of the state to perform in this year’s Australian National Busking Championships. A new addition to the River of Art Festival program, this funky event will have you grooving up and down the streets of Narooma all day long.

Scattered throughout town at various busking “hotspots”, performers will be competing against each other to not only gain points from the judges but also interactive support from you and your family in the crowd.

No matter what your taste, there will be something for you as there will be artists from every different genre including Jazz, Blues, Rock, Pop, and much more, including some special shows from acclaimed classical crossover band, The String Family.

Check the program for more information

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Liquid Art, Batemans Bay 

Just an hour’s north in Bateman’s Bay, young performers, edgy storytellers and dancers will be taking over the esplanade of St George Mall from 20-28 May. They will be performing everything from traditional African dance to live book readings.

Whilst immersing yourself in these live performances you can also explore the fluid and vibrant works of local artists specialising in oils, acrylics and pastels. Then, once you’re feeling inspired, put your own creative juices to test and attend a Liquid Art show workshop. Learn how to pastel like a pro with Nina Poulton or get jiggy in a high energy drumming and dance with Djembe Forte.

20-28 May | St George Mall, Batemans Bay

Four Winds concert 

If you’re staying further down south in the Bermagui region, treat yourself to an intimate concert performed by students from the Australian National Academy of Music.

As a part of their residency at Four Winds Winery in the Windsong Pavillion, the Aurelia Quartet will play a series of shows over a two week period. including visits to local schools and libraries. The girls from “the Aurelia Quartert” will also be working closely with local musicians for private tuitions and collaborations to create an electrifying and energetic show. Be sure to bring the whole family along kids under 16 are free.

Saturday 27 May, 2–3.30pm | Four Winds Windsong Pavilion, Four Winds Road (off the Bermagui-Tathra Rd), Bermagui, NSW

WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS

Milliner at work

Need the perfect winter accessory? Learn the ins and outs of the industry from master milliner Anne Colquitt who has spent years creating beautiful and original designs for weddings and race days. Then put your knowledge into practice at the wearable hat workshop. You’ll be able to create your very own fashionable felt hat that can rock all winter long.

Monday 22 May, 9am–3pm | Hatsavvy, Shop 3/120 Wagonga Street, Narooma

Julie Janson

Meet Julie Janson, an aboriginal artist and author of the internationally acclaimed The Crocodile Hotel. Chat to her about the inspiration behind her novel or check out her display of traditional handcrafted emu feather dilly bags.

19–28 May | Rustic Pantry, 61 Vulcan Street, Moruya

Joys of Life

Replenish yourself with good vibes and get inspired from the ‘Joys of Life’ exhibition by Noel Forbes. All of these vibrant paintings come to life and will remind you of everything that is truly beautiful in this world.

19–28 May | Perry Street Cinemas, Citi Centre, Top Floor, Perry Street, Batemans Bay

Come Fly With Me 

A very special experience being offered for the first time this year is day trips from Canberra to the Festival via seaplane.

The day trips include return flights from Canberra (including a scenic overflight of the Clyde River Estuary, Batemans Bay and parts of the Eurobodalla coastline), a guided walking tour of Festival highlights as well as a luxurious lunch at The River Restaurant, Moruya. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit open studios and houses to mingle with artists via private vehicle.

Find out more here.

the essentials

What: River of Art Festival
When: 19-28 May 2017
Where: Various locations across the Eurobodalla coast
Website and program: www.riverofart.com.au

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Annie Caughey

Annie Caughey who has just recently returned from London has spent most of her life coming and going, but always seems to find herself back in the humble Canberra. She is a big believer in the vibrant colourful culture that exists here and loves everything from fashion and food to music and art. Even though she still can't figure out the bus system, she has a great knowledge of what's happening in Canberra and loves sharing all about it with Her Canberra readers. More about the Author

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