Armed with the Gertrude Street Project Festival’s app, we knew from the map that there was an art piece right next to us, but couldn’t find it. Looking around at the buildings, cafes, and shows, we weren’t able to find anything but spotted a curious crowd of people standing in an alleyway gawking at a wall. Our first clue.
We joined them at their sides then in their awe when we saw the beautifully luminescent plants swaying on the wall opposite us.
Yandell Walton’s Life:Death, created in collaboration with Tobias J Edwards and Jayson Heibich, seemed to be breathing, exhaling life into its concrete surroundings. It also seemed to be the perfect introduction, and summary of what to expect from the Gertrude Street Projected Festival.
The annual festival hosted by The Gertrude Association presents the experience of a scavenger hunt, inviting you to really look at your surroundings to discover hidden treasures. Mesmerizing, organic artworks were scattered on walls, peering at you through shop windows, hidden away in alleyways and bars.
Some, however, were not so subtly hidden. The Gertrude Hotel, Builders Arms and Atherton Gardens were drowned out in full-blown technicolour, projecting elements of nature and abstract geometric shapes.
The heavy presence of nature and organic features in the projections is due to this year’s theme of Elements, which was explored in an assortment of ways by the artists involved. Elemental Signs is a collaborative piece between an animator and two Deaf theatre artists, representing earth’s elements through pure physical performance. Elements of Us was created by the local Fitzroy Computer Clubhoue’s teenage members and explores different aspects of their identity, such as hobbies and heritage. Elements of Creation is another youth collaboration, in which young people from diverse backgrounds pieced together a cosmic collage of images and videos.
In addition to involving the local community in the creation of some of the art, the festival invites visitors to participate with the art through some of its interactive features. Immersion by Angela Barnett, Andrew Buchanan, Darren Ballingall, Christian Rubino and Chris Mackellar is a floor projection of the world underwater and its inhabitants. People can interact and trigger responses from the fish by moving their shadows over them. Puffer fish will puff, jellyfish will light up and schools of fish will scatter upon contact. Young or old was irrelevant, the piece was enjoyed just the same, with some adults even competing to get the children’s spots to play with the fish.
The atmosphere of shared discovery found in the gallery containing Immersion, was also out on Gertrude Street with the rest of the art. People bonded in their wonderment as they explored the different projections. The Gertrude Street Projection Festival is an annual Gertrude Street institution that’s a must for those seeking a free art event celebrating art and community.
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WORDS: MANAL ALI SULAIBEEKH
IMAGES: VANESSA CAITLIN G.