The Museum of Love and Protest, Sydney

The Museum of Love & Protest was an inter-active exhibition at the National Art School (NAS) in Sydney in February/March, looking back across four decades of the history of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras. It featured original costumes, photographs, iconic posters, rarely-seen video footage, story-telling, music and artefacts. This large scale group show celebrated love, protest, diversity, humour, pride and creativity.

The exhibition included my photographs commissioned by Mardi Gras for the 2012 and 2013 official Mardi Gras posters (MARDIGRASLAND and GENERATIONS OF LOVE), and also my grinning portrait of cheesey performer Bob Downe, attached to one of his infamous cabaret safari-suit costumes.

Spot the Arab – Exhibition summary, Ballarat

Spot the Arab opened at Backspace Gallery, Ballarat on March 1, 2018 (see images below) through March 18.

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 the opening of “Spot the Arab” 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.

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 desert landscape backdrops I photographed in Israel and Palestine.


Visitor summary – Spot the Arab, Ballarat

An estimated 3,000 people visited the exhibition inside the Backspace Gallery. Many more people saw the exterior images pasted on the Backspace building and in the square (20,000 people passed by the gallery building on the Saturday of the White Night Festival)

SOCIAL MEDIA SUMMARY

A total of 20,000 people were reached through Facebook, Instagram and twitter.

3,507 people visited the separate Spot the Arab page on Facebook

John McRae’s personal photography page was visited by a further 3,393 people

6,585 people saw Spot the Arab posts via  twitter 

5,750 people saw Spot the Arab posts via Instagram (with 965 likes)

There were a further 1,000 likes via other media, and 125 direct comments

The Selfie Stand

From at least 400 people who dressed in the Arab costumes provided and took selfies at the exhibition, 33 people posted their portraits on social media.

Chill Out Daylesford – A little rural town in Victoria has created its own Mardi Gras

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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

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.

https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AIRDJ5UAkzd8ViQ&cid=3BDE59690976ABBB&id=3BDE59690976ABBB%21148&parId=3BDE59690976ABBB%21139&o=OneUp