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Saturday, May 15, 2021

heART and soul

The parallels between the rise and proliferation of the one-day Art, Not Apart festival and that of the Canberra arts scene are uncanny.

As Canberra has artistically matured into a city with its own identity attracting attention from across Australia and abroad, Art, Not Apart has mirrored that growth, itself now becoming a destination event and a date penciled into the calendars of many Canberrans.

Two Truths by Thomas Stevens – BLAE, Acrylic on board, 60 x 120cm. BLAE is one of the artists whose work will be on display at Art, Not Apart in New Acton on 16 March.

The festival has been a celebration and a showcase of local contemporary artists working across many media since its inception, and the theme for this year’s event, ‘soul and mortar’ couldn’t come at a more fitting time.

“Canberra’s soul is constantly evolving,” Art, Not Apart local music curator and festival marketing strategist Michael Liu says.

“Our soul and cultural identity has to do with the fact we’re so small and interconnected. There’s no competition, it’s all collaboration in Canberra.

“Not only is it the only way to survive, but it’s the most holistic way for us to get together,” he says.

Liu says Canberra has now hit a critical mass of density, population and audiences that means emerging artists are choosing to stay here.

“Because we’re in a way isolated from Sydney and Melbourne, there’s been a real incubation of the arts scene here, and I really think we’re starting to see it flourish now.”

In 2018, Art, Not Apart presented 232 local and 37 visiting artists representing a spectrum of contemporary arts including music, performance, visual art, street art, film and moving image.

The ninth iteration of Art, Not Apart will sprawl throughout New Acton, and across Edinburg Avenue to The Shine Dome and National Film and Sound Archive for one day only on Saturday 16 March.

Beauty and Decay (Our Ocean is a Graveyard) by Samantha Sommariva, aka Misklectic, tells the tale of Australia’s coral reefs. This work will feature at Art, Not Apart on 16 March.

The biggest addition for 2019 is the Soul Defender, a repurposed 14-tonne military truck which will debut as a stage for performances throughout the afternoon.

Audiences can expect a curated outburst of exhibitions, multiple music stages, performance art, interactive installations, film works, art and wine markets, poetry and lectures on love, delicious street food and cocktail bars, and a wild after party.

“We’re really just trying to create a soulful and evocative program this year,” Liu says.

“Art that makes festivalgoers really think about some of the issues we’re facing, but that also inspire locals and visitors alike about how much soul we have here.

“We really hope we can say something with this festival, and that people can really feel proud of what Canberra artists have matured into over the past 10 years.”

Art, Not Apart will take place at various locations across New Acton on 16 March 1-7pm. For more information, visit artnotapart.com

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