Spot the Arab opened at Backspace Gallery, Ballarat on March 1, 2018. (See images below)
Local artists, photographers, arts administrators, friends and family of the artist, journalists, and the general public from Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, Melbourne and beyond were in attendance for an evening of “Arab-spotting” on the walls of this art space (housed in a heritage-protected, former police station), funded and supported by the City of Ballarat.
Deborah Klein (Arts and Culture Co-ordinator), Cash Brown (Curator and Conservator at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) and Jonathan Turner (exhibition co-curator, Rome), opened the exhibition, which continues through March 18, Thursday – Sunday, 12 – 4pm at Backspace Gallery, Camp St, Ballarat.
In particular, the “Selfie Stand” was a huge success. This is a portable photo-booth which has been set up, where visitors to my exhibition can use their mobile phones to take a self-portrait wearing Arab head dress or costume provided, standing in front of a desert landscape backdrop I photographed in Israel/Palestine.
I am currently visiting the lovely state of Victoria, for my current exhibition called “Spot the Arab” (see further down, earlier blog entry) at Backspace Gallery, Ballarat.
My hosts thought I should experience diverse local culture on the weekend by visiting Daylesford, a small town north-east of Ballarat. I did! The following images are a collection of shots I took on Sunday morning, during the Chill Out Festival Parade down the main street of Daylesford.
The Chill Out Festival takes place over the Labour Day long weekend. The festival attracts 25,000 visitors with an estimated economic benefit of around $10 million. When the Springs Connection – a group of lesbian and gay business people in the regional town of Daylesford, Victoria – first got together to plan a local LGBTQI festival in 1997, they had no idea just how successful it would become. Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, it’s not only the largest annual celebration in Hepburn Shire, but also the biggest queer country pride event in Australia.
John McRae in conversation with Rebecca Wilson
Link to pod-cast with John McRae about his Spot the Arab portrait project and exhibition in Ballarat. Interview by artist and communications officer Rebecca Wilson, as part of her Western Connections programme.
Interview conducted in Sydney: February 12, 2018. 25 minutes.