In the lead up to the May festival I had been helping the organiser Faye Wilson (a long time IA member herself) promote the event. We promoted Blume heavily through IA’s social media pages and distributed some of the Blume magazines around Melbourne. IA also took out a full page advertisement in the magazine as sponsorship of the festival – this is the first of a kind in Australia and we wanted to be part of it to show our support for our creative industry, illustrators and illustration in general. I arrived in Katoomba on the Thursday and stayed at Faye’s until the Monday. I helped her set up the conference space (amongst other things) and met up with other attendees arriving, Richard Morden (IA president) and Sonia Kretschmar (IA Treasurer), so Faye could continue with her preparations.
Richard and Sonia attending was not only a great opportunity for IA to assert our importance in the industry, but was a chance for them to see the festival first hand and to be personally involved. Faye had arranged accommodation at the Varuna Writer’s house, and was touched and grateful we had come along. We all enjoyed our weekend together. The Print exhibition was held at Gallery One 88, a really lovely space with super nice owners. It was a great success with the gallery full on opening night (Friday night) and there were least 80 works exhibited, all uniformly framed and looking fantastic. Many sold on the night and over the next few days (including mine which I was chuffed about). Dinner afterwards was held at Palette Dining, a beautiful restaurant housed in art deco surroundings. It certainly was a great networking opportunity and a lot of fun to meet other artists.
The town of Katoomba itself is very creative and full of diverse artists. The panel discussion and talks on the Saturday were very informative and interesting – Richard started the day off as special speaker to open the proceedings and talk about IA and his own illustration. He did an exceptional job and did IA proud – this was a great opportunity for IA to be looked upon by our peers as professional and important in the industry, Faye continues to fly the flag for IA to her colleagues and fellow artists. The Saturday started with individual talks by artists such as James Gordon, Nettie Lodge, Emma Magenta, Tohby Riddle and Jude Martinez then we saw the first panel discussion (moderated by myself, eeks!). We saw the likes of Michael Agzarian, Rocco Fazarri, Michel Streich, Chips Mackinolty, Mandy Schoene-Salter and Kathie Herbert all giving wonderful insights into their own artists lives and work in another panel discussion: political and satire within art, moderated by Nick Strathopoulos. What an incredible day, you only had to listen to the banter throughout the day to know people were enjoying what they were hearing. There was a wonderful feeling of community in the room that comes when you pull artists together. Illustrators often work on their own and it is a great thing when events bring them out.
Winsor and Newton had a fantastic set up with demonstrations of their materials, they absolutely had everything except the kitchen sink there (although I suspect it was hiding under a table) – we were given the opportunity throughout the day to have a play with all manner of materials and they even gave us stocked up goodie bags, thank you W&N! Workshops were held on the Sunday and Monday morning and I thoroughly enjoyed the one that I attended. ‘Illustrating Nature’ with wonderful illustrator Anne Bowman. It was great to get hands on after being inspired by the talks over the weekend. I noticed James Gordon delivering his workshop on paper sculpture in the afternoon giving out French Champagne, his attendees were very happy indeed! Political illustrator Ward O’Neill held a workshop on the Monday as well. Faye’s plans are to hold the festival every 2nd year, but produce the magazine every year – she is putting together a committee after running this first one on her own with only minor backup. I have put myself forward to be her Melbourne representative, this will include liaising with IA and getting the magazines distributed here. I am really looking forward to being involved. What a wonderful way for IA to be involved on a National level and one went a long way for recognition of our mission and our organisation. Overall, it was a successful first time festival and I’m sure IA will be involved again, and personally speaking I certainly will be. Congratulations Faye Wilson on a mammoth effort at such a huge event. Artists as we know are not the easiest to get together and drag out of their hidey holes, especially illustrators! We all wish you every success for future festivals and magazines. Well done!back