Thursday, 9 July 2009

HOT: Gertude Walkabout, Gertrude Street Projection Festival, Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Like High Street Northcote, Gertrude Street is a creative hub which runs an arts festival in partnership with residents of the street. The annual Gertrude St Projection Festival exhibits projection art onto shops, restaurants and pubs and this year artists had to interpret the theme of 'dream'.

On a wintery Thursday night some of my book club members and I joined Gertrude Walkabout, a walking tour from Smith St to Nicholson St conducted by the Gertrude St Association. The talk was particularly informative because en route we ran into some of the artists, who were able to discuss the inspiration and techniques behind their work.
I was entranced by the work of the feature artist Yandell Watson, particularly Night Walkers. If you weren't looking at it closely you would just think that it was the tree casting the shadow on the wall, but then things didn't seem to quite match up....within the shadow leaves would float away, borne by an invisible wind, rain would drizzle when it was dry, a person's shadow would walk by but there was no one around and then snarly night monsters started emerging and creeping up the wall. Her other work was a projection of posters for a girl band, then kind that you'll see pasted everywhere in Fitzroy. But again, out of the corner of your eye you'd catch one of the members blinking at you, or wave. Or was it merely your imagination?

When you glanced down the street the most eye-catching works were the colourful large-scale projections on pubs, one on the Gertrude Hotel of Ian de Gruchy's drawings and another playing with the colours and contours of the Builders Arms (Kit Webster).

Some of the smaller works are worth mentioning too. The round window at Bar Radio was perfect for displaying projections and when we arrived the barman/artist came out to tell us about his video of speeding balloons. Basically, he noticed a hot air balloon race from his friend's apartment window, so he set up his camera and went back to sleep. So it literally was a work devised from dreams!One of my favourites was at craft store Cottage Industry, where the mysterious and shadowy installation consisted of tree branches and small projection screens. However, on closer examination, all the tree branches had been wrapped in crochet (by Pene Durston, the owner of the shop)! To be honest, I was more mesmerised by the detail and time it would have taken to crochet these branches (and the tree outside the shop), rather than the projection of cutesy animals being killed.

Some of the works really enhanced the vibe of Gertrude Street and it's a shame that they were removed after only a week. Now, I wonder where I can get hold of a set of tree doilies?

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