Over 200 artists and performers have gathered for the South Coast’s biggest arts festival, River of Art, with a record number of events programmed across the 10 day program this September. 

Musicians Ash Grunwald, Robyn Martin and Dan Cully are among those making their way to Eurobodalla, with public art by space beautician Happy Decay, digital animations by Dunk0tron and a huge program of curated exhibitions featuring established local and visiting artists. Exhibition spaces are both geographically and spatially diverse, from the region’s biggest venues to the tiniest studio tucked away in a quiet coastal hamlet.

Starting with the launch of the River of Art Prize exhibition on September 15, the program has are more than 120 curated exhibitions, live gigs, theatre, workshops and open studios between Batemans Bay and Bermagui. The festival concludes with Luminous: Celebrating Place, at Moruya Showground from 4pm on September 23.

“Artists are collaborating in almost every town and village, there is already quite a buzz,” said Leanne Joyce, Festival Chair.

“Some are repainting their gallery spaces for exhibitions, others are investing in new tools and dozens have created workshops and talks to share their skills.”

The Art Trail is open each week day, with two big weekends featuring dozens of events from Ash Grunwald at Smokey Dans in Tomakin to outdoor theatre in The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie at Eurobodalla Botanic Gardens.

“Our art after dark finale, Luminous has an incredibly diverse program with a series of digital projections and installations, some exciting roving performers, art market and live music from local and visiting musicians on two stages.”

“Local brewers, winemakers and distillers will be there, along with a variety of sweet and savoury treats and larger meals from local caterers and foodies.”

The Luminous Lounge will offer the ultimate experience with exclusive catering, bar, seating and a curated program.

Plan your trip now, the new website has an itinerary building tool and there’s still time to book accommodation in a range of cosy farm stays, luxurious hotels and quirky B&Bs.

“When you combine the Art Trail with opportunities to see the migrating whales and great lunch stops it makes for a perfect roadtrip or day out with your friends,” Leanne said.

“Even locals are planning overnight stays along the Art Trail, there’s so much happening and it’s a great way to have an easy holiday and support small business.”

Mandy Hillson

New to the program this year is an invitational exhibition titled ‘Homage to Home and Place’ featuring works by the region’s established artists. 

On exhibition at the Basil Sellers Exhibition Centre in Moruya, it includes works by 11 established local artists across a range of mediums.

The program includes painters Geoffrey Odgers, Grace Paleg, Dave Ramsland, Catherine Speed and Barb McConchie, paper maker Mandy Hillson, textile artist Margaret Ainscow, fine art photographer Corin Rossouw and 3D artists Di Appleby, Jenni Bourke, and David Walker.

Other notable exhibitions include ‘Crevices’ at the Durras Progress Hall, ‘Familiar’ at the Mechanics Institute in Moruya, and ‘Capture’ at the School of Arts Gallery in Narooma.

There are also more opportunities to meet and learn from the artists, with a series of seven Artist in Conversation events added to dozens of workshops and exhibition launches.

“Everyone has a creative spark,” Leanne said. “It can be hard to find it and nurture it but it is so rewarding and we are so lucky to have these guides and teachers living in our community.”

“Time and time again we hear stories of how one person’s decision to nurture their creativity has become a source of healing and change, for themselves and their human and natural environment.”

Tickets are on sale now at www.riverofART.com.au.

Bus bookings will close at 10pm, Wednesday, September 20 to allow for administration.

Food vendors and artists are encouraged to apply now for a stall at https://www.riverofart.com.au/luminous-river-of-art-stallholder-application-2023