Prove your humanity

It’s February—every art enthusiast’s favourite time of year! Fringe festival takes over Northbridge, followed closely by Perth Festival. These festoons are just two salutations to the colourful arts world. But internationally renowned artists and festival veterans have not been the only ones showcasing their talents this summer—emerging Perth artists also held a place on the agenda. Walking through the beer garden of everyone’s favourite Fitzgerald street pub and live music joint, The Rosemount, I was transported to a pop-up, interactive art exhibition for underground local artists.

Glasses clinked and smooth-surf guitar riffs drifted from the main stage down the corridor. I was enveloped by my surrounds and the arms of my friend Thom who (bless him) was supporting his partner’s photography exhibit.

RAW, the brainchild of LA based clothing design enthusiast, Heidi Luerra, has been connecting artistic individuals across cities and towns for the last decade. This independent organisation came to light when Heidi, who at the time felt like a small fry in a very big pond—while studying, working part time and interning in the world of fashion—realised the strength in numbers the arts pond offers. So, utilising her connections, a community that recognised sacrifice for creativity was born.

And from it sprung the notion ‘once a RAW artist, always a RAW artist.’

RAW, Reflect, an exhibition spanning the Four Five Nine bar and Rosemount’s main stage was no exception to this.

The line snaked through the beer garden to Perth’s underground arts scene—a congregation of art appreciation types and fellow artists, but mostly family and friends of the emerging seedlings. Joining the queue, I was met with the familiar smile from an old school friend—a reminder of how art brings communities together.

Self-taught visual artist Georgia Loxton Knight comes from a long line of artists, a legacy that was begun by her Grandfather Edward Loxton Knight and passed down through her mother Isobel Loxton Knight, but she only began finessing her love for painting a little over six months ago.

Despite this history she spoke to me of the importance of connecting with local artists: “You can all help each other out and support each other. For artists who are just starting out like me it can be a huge hurdle to get to a point where you’re getting picked up by galleries,” she said. “So in the mean-time it’s amazing to get these opportunities to show your work and get used to showing your work and get exposure in that way.”

Emerging photographer Joe Spina agreed RAW, Reflect exhibition was the perfect way for amateur artists to cut their teeth. He said whilst it meant making himself vulnerable, it also encouraged him to work as an artist rather than just a photographer.

“Having to get my work printed, sorted and really put it on display … putting my name out there, and … saying ‘hey look at my stuff’.

“To be standing next to [your] work and to have people scrutinise it, deciding whether or not they want to buy it—that’s a whole other level,” said Joe. “It was daunting at first, but overall a great experience.”

Stepping into the escapism, I meandered through a jungle of art works: moments captured in infra-red, black and white portraits of the Beatles, biscuit tins up-cycled into funky accessories, Jimi Hendrix stencilled on a Jackson Pollock-esque backdrop, and warped ocean-scapes like Dali’s clocks miraged by the Australian sun. No longer at my local, I was transported into the world of art in all its mediums. Pinching myself several times to remind me that no I wasn’t at Paris’ MoMA.

A concept that continues to simultaneously amaze and excite me is the unorthodox emergence of art and its ubiquitous existence. Art is in the plucked melody of a guitar on the cobbled street corners of Mexico City, it ripples from brushstrokes on canvas inspired by Western Australia’s rugged coast, art is the lucid movement of break dancers battling in the Bronx, it’s moments captured by a curious eye’s lens, rhymes recited to large auditoriums, and it’s a preoccupied hand dancing black and white etchings onto the sketchbook pages.

Art is everywhere and nowhere.

To all aspiring artists, Joe’s advice was that whilst it’s difficult to break through the white noise and be noticed—it’s important to back yourself.

“If you really want it you’ve got to push yourself. You’ve got to take those leaps and make those reaches and be very persistent,” he said.

“As cheesy as it is, a world without art is a pretty sad place.”

For more information on RAW Australia visit their website.

Photos taken by Kaelen Ruland unless stated otherwise.