Monday, October 09, 2017

ARTfest '17

When I moved down here permanently in 1991(has it really been THAT long?), there was little arts' activity.
There was the occasional live show at the Milton theater and small artists, pottery, photography and literary groups.
Live entertainment was provided mainly by the local clubs (RSL, bowls, golf) who tapped into the regional transient entertainers circuit, usually past their prime comedians and singers or tribute artists.
But as baby boomers retired and moved from Sydney and Canberra for their 'sea change', interest in the arts scene increased.
The current Artfest had its genesis in 1999 with the Tabula Rasa Contemporary Arts Festival staged during the winter months with the aim of showcasing local artists of all genres.

It has gone through a number rebirths since and the Escape ARTfest is now a two-week celebration of all things artistic in the Milton-Ulladulla district running from late September to early October.
In 2010, Rick Stein of TV chef fame (he has a very expensive fish and chip restaurant in town) and his wife came on board as the official patrons of the ARTfest. Their support has substantially increased its profile both regionally and state wide.
2017 features close to 100 individual events with over 40 art exhibitions, concerts, performances, authors' luncheons, workshops, films, digital installations and pop up community events. A children's orientated program is also a feature.
We decided to do a pottery workshop.
It was an all day affair where we hand built 'totems' under the watchful and helpful eye of two instructors.

We had a lot of fun doing it. Our 'masterpieces' needed to dry for a few weeks and then were bisque fired. When this was done they were glazed before a final firing.
Update: 5th November.
Here is the final result.
The pottery group running the workshop offers six week beginners' classes during the year so I guess this may have been in part a recruiting exercise. Whether we will continue on with this activity is still being cussed and discussed given we didn't last too long at art classes..
On another day we drove out to a lovely property behind Milton where, as part of ARTfest, an exhibition of the owners' wood fired ceramic sculptures and pieces as well as bonsai and textiles had been organized. 
We missed the opening of the wood-fired train kiln but the results looked great. 
I liked the somewhat free form and 'primitive' style pottery.
There was also a huge permaculture garden full of vegetables and numerous fruit trees, not to mention a large stand of bunya pines.
The house must have been well over a hundred years old and built in that late 1800s colonial style, many of which still remain standing in our area.

Then it was to the Milkhaus for lunch.
Situated in the old Cheese Factory at Woodstock, this establishment is a wholefoods cafe that "aims to deliver fresh, honest, simple fare, free of toxins, preservatives and anything artificial."

The menu can be unusual (and sometimes a bit challenging) and changes on a regular basis eg. crispy spiced cauliflower tacos with cabbage slaw, avocado salsa, shallots, coriander and chilli with tahini yoghurt. 
The place was jumping and all the (communal) tables were filled up. Plenty of kids too as it was still school holiday time. There is no kids' menu so I wondered how some would cope with the 'strange' food. A family at a table near us with five pre teen girls didn't seem to be having any problem.
A totally enjoyable day and a great way to end our small participation in ARTfest '17.

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