ONCE a year, Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street comes to life with dazzling projections of art played across buildings, laneways and footpaths. Rebecca Di Nuzzo invites you to explore Melbourne in a different light.
Now running in its sixth year, the Gertrude Street Projection Festival is inner Melbourne’s most visible and accessible large-scale arts festival.
Bringing together amateur and professional artists from across Melbourne and interstate, the festival is a collaborative, volunteer effort, focused on promoting and developing the art of local artists, as well as providing support for local cultural and community services.
This year, the festival’s theme is Illuminate, and will feature displays primarily comprising of media art works projected against any (yes, any!) available surface.
Projections will light up storefronts, apartment blocks, tree trunks and even the ground beneath spectator’s feet, with the final result being a complete transformation of the familiar.
And as visitors will see, when the sun sets and the lights come on they’ll be able to immerse themselves in a visual wonderland of colourful patterns and interactive displays.
The festival’s producer and director Kym Ortenburg says the act of illuminating buildings in a way that would prompt people to see things differently, is similar to the imaginative games we would’ve played as children when we watched shadows play across surfaces.
While Gertrude Street and Fitzroy has had a reputation of being grungy and dangerous in the past, Ms Ortenburg says the area has now become a bubbling microcosm of Melbourne, with a community from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.
She says the festival is an invitation to visitors and locals to re-explore the area, allowing people to see familiar spaces in new and inspired ways.
Ms Ortenburg expects some 30,000 people will be attending the festival, attracting visitors from various cultures and backgrounds in an appreciation of art and the city of Melbourne.
The volunteer base is equally diverse, drawing on the efforts of people from all walks of life to put the festival together.
The festival “includes all levels of the community”, she explains, and displays art works submitted by various groups working with underprivileged, disabled and disadvantaged members of the community.
It also involves art works submitted by students and up-and-coming artists, and provides numerous workshops, masterclasses and networking opportunities for people interested in honing their skills or learning more about media art from industry professionals.
This year’s festival will feature a group project submitted by students of the RMIT School of Art. The piece is entitled Luminance and will be displayed at Site 3 across the Turning Point building.
An exciting aspect of this year’s festival is the Festival Hub held at Gertrude’s Brown Couch (30 Gertrude St, Fitzroy). The festival’s opening night ceremony, opening night party and closing night party will all be hosted here, as will many of the festivals events including live music from local DJ’s, workshops, master classes and art panels. The Festival Hub will no doubt be a great place to visit for anyone looking to learn more about the festival and projection art.
Project Capture is also being held at Seventh Gallery as part of this year’s festival. The exhibition will display photos taken of the festival and its artworks by visitors with all entries to be printed on fine art photographic paper and entered into the festivals first ever photography competition.
For the future, Kym hopes some of the artists featured in the festival will gain international recognition through displaying their artworks at similar events overseas. She says The Gertrude Association is working to build ties with like-minded community art groups in Brazil, France and Canada.
The Gertrude Street Projection Festival runs 6pm to midnight from July 19 to 28. A festival map and smartphone app are available on the official Gertrude Street Projection Festival website.
Entry to the festival itself is free, except for a few select indoor events held at Gertrude’s Brown Couch. Check the festival program on what’s happening when and whether a booking and/or entry fee is required to events.
Getting to and from the festival is easy, with plenty of public transport available. Driving is also a possibility, however be warned parking in the area can be difficult to find.
To find out more about the artists involved in the festival, you may wish to check out this interview with projection artist Amanda Morgan.