Amidst Shops Sprouts ART: the Light Up Exhibition

Two Fridays ago, it was raining really heavily. June the 8th it was.

At about the time when most people would be finishing work I drove into ‘town’ – ‘town’ being the Geelong CBD and parked my car. No umbrella was handy but that was ok I was dressed for the occasion.

I was just wearing a ¾ thick double breasted trench coat complements of the opp shop and a chocolate brown bowler hat which reminds me of Robin Hood, a small-headed gentleman from the 1850s who likes playing poker or the $10 pile at Cotton On, the last mention actually being where I got it from.

All this detail isn’t really that important but I feel it sets the scene because really, it was unique kind of night.

Right when it was dreary outside and pubs were starting to fill up with “after work” drinks and sighs of relief were being breathed within the comfort of heated vehicles headed outbound from Geelong city, there was this new thing happening.

Wearing my crazy get-up (christened “detective/investigative journalist” by a friend) I began walking to the Market Square shopping mall.

Was I going to Harris Scarfe, looking through discount saucepans for a housewarming present, or strolling through the nearby Lincraft, buying the finest yarn so I could finally begin my Medieval replica tapestry? Or maybe I was going to just use the upstairs facilities before settling in for a two hour “shopping spree.”

These are all worthy options I’m sure but I’m going to select the “none of the above” options.

Don’t worry I’ll tell you what I was doing: I’ll tell you right now. Ok I can see you staring me impatiently, you’re about to sign off the site and heavily sigh your way into the kitchen, about to make an angry cup of tea. Or maybe play that Angry Birds game everyone keeps talking about.

“Drat, silly blogger,” you think to yourself, selecting only the finest bone china and wondering how long it make take to make macaroons. “Wish she’d just get to the point.”

The point: I went to the Light Up Geelong exhibition. That’s what was on, that’s what was so exciting. Really it was.

In a place where friendly chain stores, a pay phone, a Centrelink office and hundreds of empty chairs and tables beckoned admist the empty food court there was an oasis. An art oasis. Light Up Geelong.

In an old shop front there was suddenly art, beautiful art adorning all four corners of the room, the open entrance justifiably excepted. Painted surfboards hung out near a turquoise coloured sculpture. Sultry artistic photographs which looked like something off a Gucci ad were amongst a Cezanne style naturalist painting. Abstract met ‘fine’ art, framed masterpieces met tactile counterparts and the room was abuzz.

Silly me, I took down notes from the exhibition but now can’t find my notebook. Little brown thing filled with messy handwriting which wouldn’t make sense to anybody else and hardly is legible even to the author. Seen it?

Anyway, this little book contained some “impressions” from the show. Maybe I wrote a “good” comment like, “The waves in this piece remind me of — —“ and “strong stance of model.” Silly stuff like that.

Now that I think about, the book wouldn’t have been all that much help anyway and besides I have a new tactic.

You see, the words I wrote in the article would have been fleeting. Dependent on me reading them again to come alive: in a way fake, superficial.

But whatever has seeped into me: soaked into my mind and heart and all the rest is what I’ve actually “taken” from the exhibition.

So, for the purposes of this exercise I’m going to tell you what I “got” from this exhibition.

And please forgive the misplaced/lost or stolen (because-obviously-I’m-an-FBI-or-ASIO-agent-(for-us-Aussies)-agent-and-secrets-are-worth-millions) notebook which has greatly stunted the technical detail of this article.

So here’s my experience of the exhibition:

It started slowly: a few people here or there and became a full-grown thing. Crowds were gathered, the room became hot simply from a lot of people and the clamour of conversations was simultaneous.

For me, it was wondrous. Here we were in Geelong on a Friday night, upstairs in a shopping mall. What could you do in a shopping mall at 6pm on a Friday night, ordinarily? The obvious, I guess.

Yet, here we were at Light Up Geelong revelling in the works of both local artists: studying and being close enough to touch and stare at pieces they might have spent tens of hours completely. Surrounded by art, surrounded by artists, people who were happy to be there: curious, interested. As writer Mitch Cunningham spoke and curator Ben Neoh did and Ross Mueller artistic director of Courthouse ARTS did too, you got the sense you were part of a art revolution sweeping through Geelong at the moment. Even just standing there, being in that little shop next to other people who were craning their ears to listen as well, that’s what it felt like.

You can still go check out the Light Up Geelong exhibition.

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