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The State of The Arts: 7 Annual Aussie Expos Worth Checking Out
Australia’s art scene is vibrant but by the nature of this vast country, it is also very fragmented. This means that it is relatively difficult to bring it all together in one show. Nevertheless, there are long-running art expos that are held in different parts of the country to help develop the state of the arts.
Melbourne Art Fair
The Melbourne Art Fair each August does a good job of providing an international-standard show, especially of contemporary art, showcasing more than 70 galleries nationwide and some from overseas. This is held at the Carlton Gardens’ Royal Exhibition Building, one of the world’s oldest and most iconic exhibition pavilions. On alternate years, the show, which draws in some 30,000 visitors, forms part of the citywide biennial Melbourne Art Week.
Shoalhaven Open Art Exhibition
Also in August but on a more manageable scale is the Shoalhaven Open Art Exhibition, a tradition of nearly 50 years standing. This show, sponsored by the local council, is open to anyone over 18 and living or working in Australia. A relative novelty here is the inclusion of awards for 18 to 21 years old who live locally in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region (south of Wollongong in NSW).
Mission to Seafarers Victoria Art Exhibition
Back in Melbourne, there is the annual art exhibition organised by Mission to Seafarers Victoria in October. This event raises funds for welfare services dealing with visiting seafarers across Australia. A leading event for maritime art, it showcases and celebrates the recurring theme of the relationship between man and the sea.
Mary Valley Art Festival
The Mary Valley Art Festival, a three-day festival in the tiny village of Imbil, near Gympie in southeast Queensland, has been held each July. It has become a prime example of the ability of art to bring together and rebuild community spirit in regional Australia and has won many state and national awards.
Annual Gala Exhibition
Arts Project Australia stages a show starting December each year and displaying works by more than 100 living artists. The Annual Gala Exhibition is a finger on the pulse of contemporary art in the country and is held in Melbourne.
Not to be outdone, the New South Wales capital now has Sydney Contemporary, Australia’s new international art fair, at Carriageworks in September. This is a hot-selling show and features art from four continents as well as throughout Australia itself. The inaugural show in 2013 attracted more than 28,000 visitors.
Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Fair
Never forget that the country’s heritage stems from the Indigenous people and their unique culture. Darwin celebrates Indigenous art with a unique three-day event that combines an art market with a celebration of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It claims to be the only art fair in Australia that exclusively sells and showcases art by Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.