25 October 2023

Everyone is invited to celebrate the art of Gunning this weekend - and this time it's the real deal

| Sally Hopman
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Man and woman on couch in gallery

Artistic director of the 2023 Gunning Arts Festival, Margarita Georgiadis, with her partner, actor Max Cullen, in their Picture House Gallery, which will feature exhibitions and live music at the weekend. Photo: Hannah Sparks.

For a group of creative folk just outside Canberra, it’s been a long time coming – but finally they can celebrate the Gunning Arts Festival – in real life this weekend, 28-29 October.

COVID-19 put paid to the festival for the past two years, although the enterprising group staged it online, but holding a real-life event over the weekend has always been the dream.

Festival artistic director Margarita Georgiadis said the whole community was excited that finally the festival could be held “in the flesh”.

“We have wanted to bring people together for this for so long,” she said. “We’re all so excited that at last it’s come together.

“We’re looking forward to seeing people come to Gunning and for them to see what creative people we have here.”

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Margarita, along with her partner, actor Max Cullen, have lived in the village for more than 20 years. They will open their Picture House Gallery during the festival, with the exhibition Upcycled Creations and Rescued Artworks by Berend Kaak.

“He does amazing work,” Margarita said. ”He has a background in art restoration and installation … he goes around and rescues art from op shops. He upcycled some old GE fans, for example, into a sculpture that is also a light.

“It is amazing how he transforms everyday things into magnificent art.”

The festival will also mark the official opening of Connect@Gunning, the restoration of the Gunning Railway Station into a community arts and cultural hub. Joel Bulger will give the Welcome to Country at 11 am on Saturday, followed by a performance by the Gunning Public School Choir.

A variety of events will be held at the station throughout the weekend to celebrate its opening, ranging from the SnapWrite exhibition featuring photographs by locals of their favourite places in the region, while photographer Hamish Ta-Me will exhibit his work in the In-Transit exhibition and conduct workshops.

There will also be live music from Henry Liang on the Japanese wind instrument the sho, Joel Bulger on didgeridoo, and Gyan will perform in the Picture House garden at 2 pm on Saturday. Irish folk band Mad Kelpie Playdate will entertain on Sunday from 2 pm in the Gunning Court House in the main street.

Musicians and dogs

The band Mad Kelpie Playdate will perform at the Gunning Arts Festival this Sunday, 29 October, at the Gunning Court House. Photo: Supplied.

Other highlights of the weekend include the Dalton Drumming Circle at the nearby Dalton Hall with Kath Kovac, historic Pye Cottage will be open for visitors, and poet Robyn Sykes will give readings – something for everyone when the village celebrates creativity and culture in the bush.

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“The Gunning Arts Festival is not just an event,” Margarita said, “it’s a celebration of community engagement and fun.”

The festival is supported by Southern Tablelands Arts, Creative Gunning, Gunning Focus Group and the Upper Lachlan Shire Council.

Some festival events are ticketed but many are free. For more information, check out the festival website.

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