They’ve featured some of the most talented creatives to have ever called the Central Coast home, and now art@work are gearing up for their most grand exhibition yet.
Returning to Berkeley Vale in November, a record 50 artists, performers and makers have signed on for this year’s exhibition, with everything from the traditional fine arts to more niche offerings such as speed painting, blown glass working and sound art to be featured.
This year’s exhibition will also delve into the performing arts, with author/poet Beth Spencer, Soprano Suzi Stengel and theatre company Jopuka Productions all set to make waves during the two day art extravaganza.
Launching the creative collective of the same name with the goal of giving artists more affordable access to exhibition space, art@work Founder Marion Mikkelsen, has watched the annual exhibition grow from strength to strength over the past three years.
“On the Coast, there really aren’t a lot of places where artists can show their work, and the venues that do exist can be expensive or have very long wait times, so I started art@work to break down those barriers and to give artists more chances to engage with the community,” Mikkelsen explained.
A key aspect of that engagement has been focused on the Coast’s business community, with art@work striving to improve relationships between the arts and business locally.
“As someone who has been a businessperson, I can say with confidence that businesses should be supporting the arts and likewise, artists should be engaging with businesses.
“I think businesses are often overlooked when artists engage in community building, but there’s potential there for great partnerships to emerge, particularly if a business is willing to financially support an artist by buying their work or in other ways.”
And it seems that focus is paying off, with this year’s exhibition also welcoming new record sponsorship from the local business community.
It’s a pleasing result for everyone involved after the pandemic threatened to pull the pin on the whole thing.
“Being a one-off event, we had started the planning process in January, but then along came Covid and we had to wait and see if it was even possible to proceed.
“Thankfully we were able to move forward, but the uncertainty put us very far behind and there’s been a lot of hard work to get it back on track,” Mikkelsen said.
Opening at the Open Shutters Warehouse on November 6, the exhibition is set to run until the 8th, with two full day programs of special events.
One of the major returning events is the community mural, which will be led by celebrated local Indigenous artist, Grant Molony.
The murals have become a highlight of each art@work exhibition, with each themed around matters of interest to the local community.
This year’s mural theme is before and after COVID-19, with attendees encouraged to inscribe something about what the pandemic has meant to them.
“This mural will be about remembering 2020 as a unique time in history,” Mikkelsen said.
With children’s activities, People’s Choice Awards voting and artists demonstrations also on the cards, Mikkelsen encourages the community to see art@work.
“It’s my hope that the exhibition will grow to become something truly special for the Central Coast, but that’s up to the people to judge, so hopefully they’ll come along and enjoy.
Originally published October 29, 2020, Central Coast News