Art, Not Apart

16 Mar

Where do I begin? Art, Not Apart had a huge turnout yesterday – the wind and even the darkening clouds didn’t keep people at bay. The area thrived – a real village, community feel. And it was free!

My Art, Not Apart experience begins on Saturday morning as I browse the program. Of course, what catches my eye is the one event which isn’t free: the award winning Six Women Standing in front of a White Wall.

Curiosity is a curse, and at $10 it’s pretty cheap, so I buy tickets for Boyfriend and me in a flash, wondering what it’s all about.

We arrive early to Art, Not Apart – mostly because Boyfriend’s starving and we’re in search of some food. We first eat at A. Baker (oh yes, we dared to return – new post coming soon). With full bellies, we wander through the herb gardens which have their own art taking shape:

Dog sculptures

Flat dog sculptures

Milk bottle light sculptures (love these)

Milk bottle light sculptures (love these)





Pretty artwork for sale

Pretty artwork for sale

We head to the New Acton Nishi building, where the Six Women event will be held in the basement. The space is thriving with plenty of other art to keep us interested.

Clever art with Lego

Clever art with Lego

Easy to love this!

Easy to love this!

I’d also been interested in Prue Stent’s work combining femininity with nature. It doesn’t disappoint.

Simply beautiful

Simply beautiful


The Australian-French Alliance Film Festival is on, and Palace Electric Cinemas is serving $4 cones out the front of the Nishi building (choc-dipped cones are no extra cost!).




After a little bit of time trying to work out where the Nishi Basement is (no, not the carpark, Tara… we get there eventually), we’re let into the dark, concrete space to wait for the Six Women to arrive. And we wait.

And wait.

I test my camera for lighting while we wait... the signs read 'Please DO touch' but I still read them as 'Please do not touch'

I test my camera for lighting while we wait… the signs read ‘Please DO touch’ but I still read them as ‘Please do not touch’

And wait.

We’re told they’re wandering through the festival and it will be another five minutes.

Five minutes later we’re told it’ll be another five minutes. I am not sure why they are so slow.

And then.


Six women shuffle very slowly into the space. Very slowly. (It makes a lot of sense why they took their time getting here!) Their heads are bowed, their hair teased, costumes bright – they look kind of like demented fairies (in a good way!).

They head onto the stage and have their backs turned to us for minute after minute while music thunders at us.

So it begins...

So it begins…

As the music marches on, they slowly turn around to face us and then:


For half an hour, these women jolt and move to the music – some frenzied, some slower, depending on the music and what they’ve just done. Their eyes are wide and they look straight at the audience: staring at us, holding our gaze until we feel embarrassed and look away.

They’re completely soundless but their red-painted mouths open wide with smiles, frowns or just frozen Os.

And then we’re invited to touch them.


I couldn't not...

I couldn’t not…

Up close, it’s just as disturbing, but some kind of disturbing … connection. I can’t help but smile as I touch their hands and move them around. Some I found were not as ‘reactive’ as I expected. Also, it’s not cold, and they’re moving a lot. Sweat drips down their chests. It’s quite strange holding a stranger’s hand for more than the few seconds a handshake requires; some hands are dry, some clammy, some cold. It adds to the intimacy.




It ends slowly – the music begins to grind to a halt, and then they stop, and bow again. After we clap, they begin the slow walk out, and I see for myself why their arrival was so slow.




I think they look even more powerful as art outside the venue.

Some traffic had to be stopped...

Some traffic had to be stopped…

My favourite shot of the day

My favourite shot of the day

Now, back to the rest of the festival.

Gorgeous artwork along the street party

Gorgeous artwork along the street party

We watched this being created 90 minutes ago... love the final product

We watched this being created 90 minutes ago… love the final product



Here's looking at you

Here’s looking at you

It looks like the people above might just be hanging out and pointing at me as part of the fun… in fact, they’re also art: the photo can’t show it, but they move incredibly slowly into these positions. It’s great!

Some good finds here!

Some good finds here!

The Suitcase Rummage is particularly popular – it’s easy to see why!

Some very Canberra artwork

Some very Canberra artwork


I buy some cheap but lovely $20 old leather gloves.

Art, Not Apart is exciting and challenging – bold, confronting, interesting, confusing. The colours, the people, and the movement amongst the wood, metal and greenery of New Acton makes the place feel incredibly lively – it’s an attractive advertisement for the area, and for another Art, Not Apart next year.

Date: Saturday, 15 March 2013

Where: New Acton

Cost: Free (except for Six Women, which is $10)

Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile

Want more? The Art, Not Apart website is a good place to start.


3 Responses to “Art, Not Apart”

  1. megan March 16, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    This was one of my fave Canberra events so far this year. Such a great atmosphere, everyone was so relaxed and having fun, thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. andrewmagoo19 March 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Did you see CJ Bowerbird there? I heard he was performing but I couldn’t get there.

    • inthetaratory March 20, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      He walked past me twice but I had to leave half an hour before he performed. Was very disappointed to miss him.

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