With its entranceway still the original 19th century neoclassical forecourt and the second largest collection in Australia, it is no revelation that the Art Gallery of New South Wales is high-brow. The monthly FOMArt events, however, show a different side of the institution.
Organised by a group of young art-enthusiasts, FOMArt – or Fear of Missing Art - is a free art event held on the last Saturday of every month. Designed for young people, the program includes a multitude of art-related activities – from interviews with artists, to art performances and collaborative workshops designed purely for the personal opportunity to get down and dirty with art practice. Combining intimate chats with women of colour artists, colourful art performances involving drums and hands on exercises that allowed young 15-25 year-olds to self-express through the creation of their own tote bag, last month’s FOMArt was everything an art gallery should be – inclusive, inspiring and fun.
When thinking about the theme for each month’s FOMArt, the Art Gallery of NSW’s Youth Collective always imagines what would attract young people to the gallery space, as Youth Collective organiser Anna Honan described. Honan explained why an exploration of identity became a powerful idea for accessibly engaging with political art in last month’s FOMArt.
“Sometimes it can be a bit hard to access art” Honan said, “but everyone can relate in some way when they directly hear an artist talk about cultural identity, so it becomes really easy to relate it back into the art work.”
Hearing artists Shireen Taweel and Marikit Santiago intimately chat about the aspects of their cultural identity which shape their provocative artwork made it a lot more accessible for art amateurs to understand the cultural signifiers and meanings embedded in their art. The dialogue also reinforced the value of gallery spaces for giving a platform to minorities who are often overshadowed in the industry by the existing canon of powerful white male artists.
Honan said, “If we even sit in the gallery space of those entrances, a lot of the art is from historically-reputed white male artists, so I think it is important to feature women of colour artists in order to show and encourage young people that the art world moving forward is accessible to female artists and artists of colour.”
As well as encouraging diversity in identity, FOMArt always engages with diversity in practice. Last month, artist Locust Jones performed 4x4; a mesmerising three hour drawing performance which responded to the drum beats created by drummer Tim Bruniges. Immersion in this provocative act of art-making gave people a more tangible understanding of the various elements and materiality that create art.
“Normally art hangs on the gallery wall and you don’t know what happened to them, how they got there or anything about it, so to be able to see an artist like Locust completely in his element is a really special experience,” recalled Honan. With Bruniges’ drum beats evocatively reverberating around the gallery space, people were magnetically drawn to the performance’s exciting communal vibe; a feeling best exemplified in the rapturous applause amid Locust’s charismatic dance to the concluding beats of Bruniges’ drum.
If this isn’t immersive enough, FOMArt also allows young people to engage in the very act of art-making. Last month young people left with paint-stained fingers and a flurry of inspiration, as they created personalised tote bags inspired by a provocative political message, in line with the month’s political art theme. Honan emphasised that “producing art makes you think in a whole different way about the materiality of practice.”
Call outs to be a part of the 2019 Art Gallery of NSW Youth Collective are now on. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Youth Collective in 2019, you can apply here https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/education/youth-programs/youth-collective/.