A high concentration of artists forms a “quiet underbelly” of the Eurobodalla region, according to River of Art festival vice chair Di Jay. But she says that volume is set to turn right up.
After being relegated to the online space for two years, the family-friendly art festival has roared back.
Coinciding with the peak of the region’s whale migration season, this year’s program has more than 100 exhibits, workshops, open studios and performances – and counting.
And it all culminates in “Luminous: Art After Dark” – the kind of laser and light show Di says is usually reserved for the nation’s big metropolitan cities.
“This year’s festival will undoubtedly be the biggest ever,” she says.
“We’ve really upped the ante with Luminous – it’s a spectacle on the edge of the Moruya River and we expect people to come out in droves for it.”
While the festival will retain and enhance its fringe-style live performances and diverse range of events across the entire Eurobodalla for 10 days, Luminous will provide a central focus.
“We wanted to create a heartbeat for the festival to celebrate the creative arts in the region,” Di says.
“We want to provide support and a focal point for the art community but also allow those not in the arts to engage with it in an experience unlike anything they would normally find in regional areas.”
First, the art market invites visitors to meander among light sculptures, feast on delicious foods and browse the artisan stalls of the riverside market.
Roving performances will tower over the event against the soundscape of live music by Dom Turner & The Rural Blues Project and Dog Trumpet, before the Luminous laser and light show steals the night.
While Luminous provides a festival focal point, it’s not hard to find highlights in a program packed with world-class offerings on any of the 10 days in towns across the Eurobodalla.
Options span the arts from ceramics to woodwork, jewellery and metal work to painting and printing, artisan bread-making to music, millinery, photography, fashion, poetry, storytelling and everything in between.
Ranging from spectator through to fully immersive and interactive, events are still being added – and the vast majority will be free.
Heidi Hoops Hillier will bring her new solo cabaret-style show Flutter to Narooma on 17 September and jazz legend Vince Jones will take Bay Pavilions by storm on 23 September. Vince will be joined by Matt McMahon (piano), Karl Dunnicliff (bass), James Hauptman (drums) and John Mackey (saxophone).
In Moruya’s 6 x 3D exhibition, six local artists who work largely in three-dimensional mediums explore space, form, light, structure and materiality.
Backed by the regional events acceleration fund, the Federal Government’s “support festivals Australia” agency and the Eurobodalla Shire Council, the festival will acknowledge the artistic community’s contribution to the region and help revitalise its tourism.
“The Eurobodalla’s creative communities make a multi-million-dollar contribution every year to the region,” Di says.
“This festival is a platform by which they can showcase what they have to offer and accelerate that contribution.”
Di says supporters hope this year’s event will become a “springboard” to retain the festival’s scale going forward.
“We’re encouraging everyone to come on down and participate in this event and support the arts,” she says.
“Come and enjoy the pristine environments and produce of the Eurobodalla, drink in the atmosphere of the spectacular and awe-inspiring Luminous, take advantage of the world-class musicians and artists all gathered in the region and unleash your own creativity.”
Festival of Art runs from 16 to 25 September at various times and locations across the Eurobodalla – explore the website for a full program of events.
Luminous: Art After Dark takes place on 24 September at Riverside Park. Children under 16 enter free and adult general entry is $20. Access to the premium Luminous Lounge experience, including gourmet snacks, private bar and exclusive performances, is $150. Purchase tickets here.