I have not been blessed with the talent of easily unearthing layered meanings in a painting or fully appreciating the creative procedure behind abstract drawings or sculptures. While I like to think creative bones exist in my body, they manifest themselves in words rather than art. Consequently, I went into the St. Art Launch Party with trepidation – would the art be accessible to someone like me? Could I write an honest review, knowing I may have grossly misinterpreted someone’s hard work?
I left the Vic placated. St. Art did a remarkable job of turning half the Vic into a space that celebrated the creative process and provided interactive activities for viewers. All of the areas focused on this issue’s theme of identity. The live artist space teemed with onlookers as Eliza Prangley shared her henna work. Toby Marsh, founder of St. Art, perched over the beginnings of a sharpie drawn mural that I’d already love to hang in my living room. He also displayed some bottle art, an ‘up-cycling art’ project St. Art hopes to continue with the Vic.
The uncluttered exhibition room allowed me to center in on a vibrant set of pictures by Emma Parviainen. Dotted along a series of paintings by Emma Cunningham and other talented St. Art contributors were tags with quotes like “It takes a long time to look like his portrait” (Cy Twombly), “I’ve tried to become someone else for a while…only to discover that he, too, was me” (Stephen Dunn) and “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will” (Charlotte Bronte). It was one of many creative avenues they took to incorporate the identity theme but it also served as a possible inspiration source for the people who translate words or lyrics into their art.
While I didn’t try my hand at a self-portrait, plenty of others took to the table kitted with sketchbooks and a full-length mirror and added their own contributions to the event.Before leaving, my roommate and I stopped back into the exhibition room and watched one of Blu Blu’s street art animations – an agglomeration of arms morphing into a mouth only for the teeth to pop out and parade down the street (trust me, it’s worth a watch), successfully accompanied by Moodroom Collective’s subtle electronic music.
If someone had tasked me with effectively placing this video alongside more traditional portraits and a henna artist, I imagine it would have been deemed a jumble. But St. Art fashioned an event that both freed the viewer to peruse the cohesive collection at their own pace and opened the possibility for active involvement with the artists and their magazine.
My only regret was that the launch event was a temporary setup in the Vic. The art accompanied by Moodroom Collective meshed well with the Vic’s redesigned rooms and would be a great venue for a longer showcase of St. Andrew’s talent.
St. Art’s latest magazine can be seen on their recently relaunched website along with small portfolios from their team of artists.