It takes more than a global pandemic to conquer Eurobodalla’s creative spirit.
Just as the 2019-2020 bushfires which swept through the region couldn’t keep good artists down, the COVID-19 lockdown of spring 2021 has motivated Eurobodalla’s River of Art into finding new ways to give voice and visuals to its creative community.
So while the planned 10-day physical program that was due to start next week had to be cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s festival is going virtual.
From your laptop, smartphone or tablet, you’ll be able explore Eurobodalla’s vibrant arts community online as you undertake a virtual journey through the lives and workplaces of local artists. You can set your own time and place to be uplifted and inspired by Eurobodalla’s creative people.
The headline act of the 2021 Virtual River of Art will be the Arts Directory, which was introduced at last year’s festival also in response to COVID-19. This year’s directory is greatly expanded to include profiles of more than 50 artists.
But the 2021 Virtual River of Art is more than the Arts Directory. Local groups who in previous years have been festival participants are looking at ways they can contribute their own online exhibitions. These include the Moruya and District Historical Society’s online exhibition, ‘Illuminated: The Art of Children’s Book Illustration’, and the Montague Art and Craft Society’s 39th annual art exhibition.
“In light of the tough restrictions everyone is under, this artistic celebration of diversity and beauty is much needed,” says Di Jay, co-chair of the festival.
River of Art co-chair Vicki Lascelles adds: “That diversity will be all encompassing. Sculpture and ceramics through to the performing and visual arts, as well as jewellery and textiles will all be featured.”
The 2021 Virtual River of Art festival will launch on Friday, 17 September, 2021.
“We’ll be doing a virtual launch of the festival on the same day we had planned for the launch of the physical festival,” says Di. “By then, we will have all, if not most, of the artists taking part in the Arts Directory on the website as well as other organisations.
“There’s no getting around our disappointment in having to cancel the physical events, but the upside is this virtual celebration isn’t for a set period. People wanting to set off on a personal discovery tour of Eurobodalla’s art can do so whenever and wherever they want to.
“Or if you have a favourite local artist you want to contact and even commission a piece, you’ll probably find them on our directory.”
Getting the virtual festival into place hasn’t stopped the committee from looking at how some of the cancelled physical events, such as the very popular River of Art Prize, can be rescheduled early next year.
Plans are also underway for the 2022 River of Art, which the committee is determined will be spectacular to make up for the COVID-19-related disappointment of 2020 and 2021. Those dates are now set for 16-25 September, 2022.
For updates on the virtual program, and to see what events will be running in the new year, stay in touch via the River of Art website.
The festival is a community-led initiative run by volunteers with support from local artists, local businesses, Eurobodalla Shire Council and the NSW Government.