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isiiad - Paint These Gardens
exhibitions

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I've been a bit cheeky putting this one in the Exhibitions Category.  It's more of an event really.  An arts event.  A community event. The best sort of event in my book.  It was a sublime experience for a would-have-been-if-I-could-have-been artist like myself.  Though  I would have to say that some of the artists involved are the real deal and are represented in galleries.  Last years winner Manwel Cassar being one of them.

I'm talking here  about the "Paint These Gardens"  painting competition  held at the St Kilda Botanical Gardens 9-10 October 2010.  This is the second time the gardens have hosted this event.  The organization-Friends Of St Kilda Botanical Gardens or FOSKBG, make the competition possible.

The idea is for the artists to roll up at around 9am on the first day, find a vista that appeals and start painting.  At the end of the first day, the paintings are all collected and stored in the Eco Centre at the garden (all work needs to be done on site).  The following day the artists have until 2pm to complete their work.  After collection, every painting is displayed and the judging begins.

Once the three judges have made their decisions, the general public are invited to vote for their favourite in the Peoples Choice Award.   This is followed by the presentation of prizes at 5pm.  While display and judging was going on, a local musical group called the Allsorts entertained the masses. Along with a first, a second and peoples choice award their is an individual prize given for a child's painting.

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             Winner of the Childrens Award  Geneva Crowley                                                Last years winner Manwell Cassar

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Peoples' Choice winner Peter Edgeley hard at work.

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The Allsorts in full swing.

So that's all the formal stuff around this event.  What it doesn't tell you is the sheer pleasure that the whole experience affords the participants.  We were lucky enough this year to have two perfect spring days.  The gardens certainly came alive for it.  For me, there was sublime pleasure in moving paint around a canvas (mostly with my fingers) in the midst of people enjoying a picnic, throwing a frisbee or in the case of many children climbing a tree. For an old St Kilda-ite like myself there was the added pleasure of catching up with old neighbours and friends.  (The St Kilda Botanical Gardens was a favourite haunt for our family.  We lived two streets away.  One of my funniest memories is of my son Kenneth, no more than two years old who just walked right into the pond and was thankfully fished out by his Dad who arrived home with a dripping Kenneth and a rather rye smile on his face.)

Then there was the young art critic ( no more than six years of age) who said, after careful consideration of my work...."I really like your painting!"  After that, I didn't really care whether I won or not. Speaking of children, how wonderful it was to see earnest young artists focussing their attention for hours on their own paintings.  Some were set up with easels while others sat on tiny seats with their paintings on their laps.  Irrespective of their equipment every child I saw painting was utterly engrossed in their work.

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On the arm of the The Rain Man sculpture that sits in the middle of the pond, a bird has built her nest.  The pond is cracking and serious repair work is needed.   This will necessitate the draining of the pond. The powers that be have decided, in their infinite wisdom, to delay the repairs until the baby birds have hatched and left the nest. This story is a source of great pride for locals and visitors to the park.  Many of the paintings concentrated on the Rain Man and his temporary residents.

In the end I had to work feverishly to meet the deadline, rushing over to the collection point at the very last minute with a canvas still covered in wet paint.  I felt that my painting lacked a certain "je ne sais quoi" but with the help of friends have named it Rain Man Dreaming. It will sit on display at isiiad as a frequent reminder of a great couple of days in an enchanted place surrounded by all of the best things in life. Thank you to my dear friend Anne Peterson for the very fine photos.

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Today I filled out a survey for the Friends of St Kilda Botanical Gardens about the event.  The last question was Would you participate if the event was repeated next year?  That was a resounding yes from me!

If you would like to see the winning paintings along with the judges comments, here's the link.  www.foskbg.org.au

Parent Category: Arts
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