Last night was the opening of the 5th Melbourne Stencil Festival at Yarra Sculpture Gallery. The festival includes: tours of street art, live spraying collaborations, a film night, book launch, panel discussions, stencil workshops and master-classes. There are international artists from Iran, Scotland, South Africa, Brazil and the USA. It is a huge 9-day event.
Unlike the contemporary art scene the opening night of the Melbourne Stencil Festival was turned into an event with bar, entertainment and a $20 entry price, including a drink and raffle ticket. Hundreds of people came through the door, bought art, drinks and merchandise. The Melbourne Stencil Festival is a non-profit organization but the organizers know how to raise money and get good sponsorship for the festival.
At the opening street artists, goths and schoolboys mixed with collectors, gallery owners and city councilors. Part of the reason for opening events is to mix people together and the more diverse a mix the better; the other part is to sell art and there were lots of sales at the opening. I said hello to Satta Van Daal, who used to organize the stencil festival, amongst the crowd at the opening; I hadn’t seen him since Leeana Edward’s opening at 696. Satta is now working full time, which is why he is not part of the team organizing this year’s festival. Full time work makes a lot of cultural involvement difficult; it certainly makes it difficult to find volunteer gallery attendants for the middle of the week.
The Yarra Sculpture Gallery is a good venue for the festival. The large converted factory has all the facilities that the festival needs and it is rough enough for a street art exhibition. It is a relief from the designer look that many Melbourne galleries try to cultivate. I not going to review the exhibition because of a conflict of interests, as I am involved in organizing it and I will be part of the jury judging the emerging artist’s prize. It has certainly been very useful for my background research on street art, especially meeting some of the international artists, and I am trying to take notes for future blog entries.