Emerging Melbourne artists are coming together for a 10 day cultural festival in the Yarra

This month a collection of refugee and culturally diverse artists and performers are coming together for the annual Emerge in Yarra festival.

Thanks to Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), as part of the Community Cultural Development (CCD) program for “culturally and linguistically diverse emerging and refugee artists and communities in Victoria” a plethora of cultural talents will be showcased in the City of Yarra.

This year’s Emerge in Yarra festival will present 10 events over 10 days and will include a delicious array of cultural food, amazing performances, and enriching cultural experiences; expect language lessons along with innovative musical experiences. There really is something for everyone.

Event organiser Frejya MacFarlane has experienced the enriching culture surrounding Emerge. Having been involved in several MAV events over the past couple of years, she expresses the importance of hosting events like Emerge in Yarra festival.

“It’s all about developing relationships with emerging refugee communities and giving them a platform to be more involved in the arts and developing programs,” she said.

Emerge artists and performers hail from all walks of life, each with a story to share with their Yarra community. Neda Rahmani is a seasoned professional performer and has been involved with MAV since around 1999.

This year Neda is heading up her favourite festival session: Cookin’ up Community, held at the Collingwood Community Kitchen on Tuesday, July 4, at 7.30 pm. Cookin’ up Community unites a cultural cooking experience with music, songs, and stories from distant homelands.

In a collaboration like no other, the Cookin’ up Community session will blend the Iran/Persian culinary roots of  Neda Rahmani with Saba Alemayoh’s East African cuisine, to represent the unique meals passed down from their mothers.

“My cuisine is a great mélange of different flavours and I can’t wait to see what happens when we put each other’s dishes side by side,” Neda said.

“We all have to eat. We all share that human need to nourish and I think people are interested in learning something new and witnessing something new,” she said.

This year’s Emerge in Yarra festival is bringing about the importance of welcoming and learning about new cultures that live right around us.

Art by I-Yen (Molly). Photo: Emerge.

Molly Chen, a new visual artist on the Emerge scene is particularly excited to showcase her collaboration with Yumemi Hiraki at The Ownership Project in Fitzroy. Their exhibit will showcase spatial installations in a “home setting” and elevate the discussion of history surrounding their blend of Taiwanese (Molly) and Japanese (Yumemi) backgrounds.

“It’s a very storytelling exhibition and I expect everyone to come and find it very playful, funny and delightful, but at the same time have a strong feeling surrounding discussion about the trauma and the history in our show,” Miss Chen said.

With a medium cultivated by the artists and their cultural values, Emerge in Yarra will be the ultimate cultural experience for 2017. The 10-day festival will bring forth stories of courage, and events that serve a strong purpose in bringing the community together.

For a full list of programs occurring in Emerge in Yarra 2017, click here.

Written by Grace Evans 


Submissions for Emerge 2017 are coming to a close

Call outs to get involved in the City of Yarra’s most inclusive celebration of multicultural arts and music, Emerge 2017, are coming to a close this Friday.

Created in 2004, in conjunction with Multicultural Arts Victoria’s (MAV) Visible Music Mentoring Program, Emerge 2017 started out as a humble arts festival and has grown into an all-encompassing series of art and music events taking place across the Yarra for one week at the end of June.

Emerge 2017 welcomes innovative music and art submissions from artists in the Yarra and provides an outstanding opportunity for newly arrived refugees and emerging communities to get involved in telling their stories and connecting with the community.

We spoke to Joel Ma, one of the creative producers, about all that is coming from this year’s event.

“It’s about opening up communities and neighbourhoods to the multicultural personalities and diversity that is around them and we often take for granted… and within that is this rich amount of human story and experience that we can all benefit from and embrace,” he said.

Cookin’ Up Community with South Sudanese spoken word poet Abe Nouk and South Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai (held at the Fitzroy Community Kitchen). Photo: James Henry Photography

“MAV gravitates towards innovative ideas and artistic pursuits,” he says,“The other side of [Emerge 2017] is to create amazing art, for us it’s about finding artists within [the Yarra] who represent all groups… to come together and collaborate and try ideas out and connect with where they live now.”

Emerge 2017 is also pushing the boundaries of the mainstream music scene by challenging expectations of many mainstream musicians who are of the notion that multicultural arts and music can’t be separated from the traditional.

“From the music perspective, I’m very interested in the idea that multiculturalism includes more than just a traditional view of art or view of music. It can sometimes be engaged with traditional instruments, but that could be offset with electronics or contemporary music collaboration… And that is where you’ll find the most popular music of today,” said Joel.

With a philosophy of celebrating the positive contributions of newly arrived refugee groups, and embracing diverse art and music in the Yarra community, Emerge 2017 is definitely something we can get behind.

In its 13th year and thriving with strong connections to community leaders and cultural groups, Emerge 2017 is only expected to continue to cultivate its invaluable contribution to the community.

The submission deadline is 5 pm Friday the 5th of May, with all submissions going to Freja Macfarlane at freyja.macfarlane@multiculturalarts.com.au

A day of contemporary art: four galleries and exhibitions to check out before the month ends

Melbourne is home to a plethora of innovative and exciting art exhibitions that are head-spinningly good. Clear a day in the up-coming week and spend it feeding the soul with creative expression, because these art exhibitions are coming to an end; and they are definitely not to be missed.

Start in Abbotsford at the convent, with a delicious vegetarian breakfast at Lentils as Anything. This will set you up for a day of contemporary art in the City of Yarra.

Tacit Gallery

Make your way up Johnston street, and around 200m before Hoddle street, you’ll come across Tacit Gallery.

The space is a commercial gallery run by Keith Lawrence that generally exhibits excellent, though more traditional two-dimensional works by established artists. The diversity of colour, style, and medium in the current exhibitions makes for a fantastically varied narrative to walk through. Amongst other mediums, the current show consists of oils on linen, monoprints, collage, and drypoint. This is, Keith details, a tendency of the gallery’s shows, following the discovery that their patrons tend to prefer shows that prioritise this very quality of difference. The smoky, Munch and Hopper-esque oils that greet the gallery-goer extend to the next room of magpies and feathers, and contrast dramatically with Gallery 3’s outlined nudes. Colourful wooden collages – undeniably cubist in form – again contrast with Libby Burne’s misty, textured landscapes. This exhibition adheres with the gallery’s ‘prioritisation of the object’.

The current exhibitions are on until the 27th November

Noriko Nakamura's We weren't aware that you have been here all this time, 2016, in Gertrude Contemporary. Photo: Camilla Eustance
Noriko Nakamura’s We weren’t aware that you have been here all this time, 2016, Gertrude Contemporary. Photo: Camilla Eustance

Off the Kerb

Keep traversing up Johnston street, entering into Collingwood. Across the road from the famous Keith Haring mural, you’ll find Off the Kerb Gallery.

Founded by Shini Pararajasingham, Off the Kerb is primarily centred around illustrative, painted, and photographic works. In early December, they’ll feature the Melbourne Polytechnic BA of Illustration graduates in an exhibition titled ‘Kindling’. For now, the light-filled gallery is exhibiting four artists/illustrators. There is no underlying theme, but as with most shows at the gallery, the work coheres – through its illustrative or portrait-based nature. MITCH, whose popular work occupies the initial space, creates beautiful, stylised designs – much of them on wood panel – featuring long-haired, plant-laden, cosmic belles. Upstairs you’ll find Naomi Waller’s explorations in ink and geometric design, and a bright white room full of prints that poetically investigate the colours of childhood through depictions of quirky, pretty girls. Occasionally the gallery exhibits more conceptual work, like Ramak Bamzar’s ‘In Pain’, which are a series of arresting portrait photographs. This gallery, full of trendy, eye-catching work, is perfect for a lightly-caffeinated afternoon stroll – perhaps after stopping by Everyday Coffee on the street opposite.

The current exhibitions are on until the 24th November

Collingwood Gallery

Up and around the corner, Collingwood Gallery sits happily amidst the hipster bustle of Smith street.

The commercial gallery is aimed at a slightly older audience, but features exciting artwork accessible to just about anyone. Established in 2000, the gallery features but is not limited to painted and photographic work. Entering, you’ll find a long, cool room partitioned into two sections. Currently, Eric Henshall’s exhibition ‘Nepo Rab’ is on display. The bright, vivacious work is a visual and sociological pleasure. All of the works are night scenes from bars exclusively in the swing-town city of New Orleans, and are filled with keenly observed activity. The works are somewhat neo-expressionist in tone and dance around a moody burgundy colour scheme interspersed with the luminous green of a pool table, the electric blue of a Bud Lite can, or the red of a ketchup bottle. Outside of the art on its walls, Collingwood Gallery also offers Life Drawing classes on Wednesday.

Nepo Rab is on until the 24th November

Erich Henshall's Portrait of Aya, 2016, in Collingwood Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
Erich Henshall’s Portrait of Aya, 2016, Collingwood Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
MITCH's exhibition Twoism, 2016, in Off the Kerb Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance
MITCH’s exhibition Twoism, 2016, Off the Kerb Gallery. Photo: Camilla Eustance

Gertrude Contemporary

Continue down Smith street and up the hill to Gertrude, where you’ll find Gertrude Contemporary.

The art gallery takes a conceptual leap after Collingwood gallery, but is best noted simply as evidence of just how wide the scope of contemporary art is. Supporting contemporary artists for over 30 years, the gallery is one of the artistic hot-spots of the Fitzroy area. The current show ‘Gertrude Studios’ exhibits some of the finest contemporary art practice and research that Melbourne has to offer. A pleasing mish-mash of objects and mediums command the space’s attention upon entering. One of the terrific qualities of the contemporary art is the freedom of medium, and the option to dematerialise entirely – something that all visits to Gertrude will demonstrate. The exhibition features textural abstracts, new media concerned with travel, technology, and the nature of art itself – as well as more performative works such as Hamishi Farah’s Statement of non-participation, Adelle Mills’ video work Family is a score, and Eric Demetriou’s Round Base: mysterious microphone in the middle of the space. To break up the whirring in your brain whilst you observe such art, why not blast out an anthem?

Gertrude Studios 2016 is open until the 10th December

By Camilla Eustance