The Underbelly Festival, running since 2007, was this year held on Kensington Street, Chippendale in a series of studios and warehouse spaces. It brought together around 100 creative practitioners working in fields as diverse as theatre, film, music, installation, puppetry, sound and video art, publishing, and even aerial acrobatics. Running from July 8- 17, Underbelly Festival encourages the creation of work on-site, and culminates in the Festival Finale - a ticketed event that invites the public to view the works created over the ten days.
ReefKnot, an artist collective founded by Michelle McCosker and Alasdair Nicol, facilitated the project Filling in the Cracks for this year's Underbelly. The project invited artists to work with ReefKnot in developing works designed for the cracks and crevices found in and around the festival site. All the works were made from found materials, and the artists involved created a spectacular array of objects and installations that transformed the gritty urban landscape. Beatrice Chew and Peggy Leong created beautiful clay ducks that hung alongside small glass vials with plant material growing inside them. These were suspended from painted branches or placed inside hand-woven birds' nests. Camilla Palmer plaited and knotted strips of brightly coloured silk fabrics from which she made various sized rosettes. The rosettes were then attached to a rusted and flaking drainpipe giving the effect of a luscious, healthy rose vine winding its way up a decaying pipe. Lucia Scurrah created gorgeous shrines from found plastic objects such as spoons and the soy fish one gets with their sushi. They conjured up ideas of Mexican sugar skulls and religious iconography.
Public art such as that which ReefKnot are exploring plays a vital role both for the general public and the arts community. Not only does public art invigorate the common space, but Michelle and Alasdair have put in practice a project that provides opportunities for artists of all kinds to engage with each other, and their audiences, in ways that are challenging, enlightening and inspiring.
Artists who collaborated with ReefKnot for Underbelly: Lucia Scurrah, Kyla Ring, Cara McLeod, Camilla Palmer, Whitney Fitzsimmons, Natalie Miles, Alli Sebastian Wolf, Beatrice Chew, Peggy Leong, Victoria Johnstone, Michael Lewarne.
Milla Pinch lives in Sydney, with her husband, studies creative writing, teaches ESL English and writes short fiction and paints small oil paintings. Read more of her stuff at:http://www.whoismillapinch.wordpress.com/