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13 May 2020
By DYLAN DE JONG
A Horsham art festival created by artists for artists will forge ahead online this year.
Celebrating its 25th annual festival, organisers of Art is… spent more than a year planning to deliver a 10-day 2020 festival ‘Art is… Unexpected’.
This year the festival, now titled ‘Art is… Still happening’, will span the whole of winter in a reduced online program due to COVID-19.
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Festival directors have teamed up with artists including Horsham’s Nichola Clarke and poet Amy Bodossian to deliver art and poetry workshops online via Zoom.
A key feature of the festival, Galleries on the Side, where artists display their work in the windows of Horsham businesses, will go ahead through an online gallery.
Horsham artist Amabile Dalfarra-Smith is contributing her COVID-19-themed art to the gallery this year.
Her latest collection, which will be on display at Horsham’s Framewave Picture Framing, is of empty Italian city streets during the pandemic.
This differs slightly from her usual style of painting, where she creates semi-realistic images of people, open landscapes and nature incorporating some abstract elements.
Smith used Milan and Venice as her point of reference.
She said the fact two of the most densely populated European cities were stripped bare of people at the outset of the pandemic was bizarre.
“It’s quite different to what I normally do,” she said.
“These images were my first response to when I saw Italy go into lockdown.”
The artist has family ties in Italy, having travelled there herself many times.
“I thought it was really surreal. I was in Italy last year. It’s usually crowded and teeming with people, to see it with no people just blew my mind,” she said.
“In 1983, I went to Venice in December, around Christmas. It was minus-10 degrees and there was hardly anyone there – it was absolutely stunning, just gorgeous.
“With lockdowns I was really concerned for my relatives who live in northern Italy. I’ve got elderly relatives, although they’re fine because they live fairly remotely.”
Smith, preparing to take part in Galleries on the Side for the second time, said she was excited to display her new pieces and hoped it would bring attention to Horsham businesses that were suffering through COVID-19.
“It brings attention to certain spaces and gives people who are interested in art a chance to support artists,” she said.
“In these times it’s going to be a positive thing for retailers. It will give them promotion – all the retailers have suffered incredibly because of this virus.”
Festival manager Sarah Natali said after more than a year of planning she wanted to continue with the festival.
“The festival turns 25 this year, so we didn’t want to cancel,” she said.
“I’m making it available and accessible so people who are socially isolated can connect.
“The Art is… festival, starting in 1995, is why Horsham has such a good art scene – other towns of this size wouldn’t have this.”
Ms Natali encouraged the whole community to get involved in Galleries on the Side and the workshops she is planning to deliver throughout winter.
“We’re all about participation and community engagement,” she said.
“This is a co-creative festival, anyone can do anything for Art is…, they just have to be prepared to deliver it.
“It’s about making art that’s fresh, bringing people together, developing artists skills through bringing quality artists to the region and providing professional development opportunities for our artists so they don’t have to travel out of the region.”
Art is… will also be teaming up with Horsham Agricultural Society to display work created through the festival at the 2020 Horsham Show, which is also expected to be delivered online.
People can visit www.artiswimmera.com for festival updates.
The entire May 13, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!