Blue Illustration festival first of its kind

The upcoming Blume Illustration Festival will make history as the first festival of its kind in Australia – and it’s happening in Katoomba.

This is a point of pride for the festival’s creative director, Faye Wilson.

“There are so many reasons why the first festival dedicated broadly to the art of illustration should have its home in Katoomba,” she said.

“With three times the national average of creatives in our demographic, why shouldn't we get people to come up and share the unique scenic and cultural identity of the Blue Mountains, as well as the talents of our world-class artists and their colleagues?”

The festival is also important because of the focus it places on the art of illustration. According to Darwin-based advocate, journalist and graphic designer Chips Mackinolty, “the role of illustrators and graphic artists are often overlooked, and seen as the poor relation in the art world. It would be nice to see the Blume Illustration Festival change this, and expand its scope in future years.”

Darwin-based advocate, journalist and graphic designer Chips Mackinolty

Darwin-based advocate, journalist and graphic designer Chips Mackinolty

A montage of work by Rocco Fazzari

A montage of work by Rocco Fazzari

Mackinolty will take part in the “Art With Teeth” panel discussion, discussing politics and satire in illustration, and design as an instrument for social change. He’ll be joined by the likes of NSWAG 2016 Archibald Prize People’s Choice winner Nick Stathopolous, interdisciplinary artist Mandy Schoene-Salter and veteran cartoonist and caricaturist Rocco Fazzari.

Fazzari, who left Fairfax Media in 2016 during the spate of media retrenchments, has experienced first-hand the pressure on “traditional” artists and illustrators.

“As few and limited as opportunities are, I think the digital world might offer up more, as it’s an extremely visual medium. It’s just a matter of how much moguls are prepared to pay for it,” he said.

“The Blume Illustration Festival is a great idea. As artists/cartoonists/illustrators usually work in isolation, it's important to bring people together in a shared sense of community.”

A sense of community is an underlying theme of the Blume Illustration Festival, with Wilson emphasising that it’s not only for seasoned artists, but also high school students, students or people considering a career change.

Saturday tickets are $65 or $55 concession, and include panel events, presentations, an expo of art materials from Winsor & Newton, a hearty lunch and the chance to meet and socialise with the festival’s many guest artists and presenters. There will also be “half day” tickets available from the YHA on the day, for $25 for either the 9am to 12.30pm session, or the 1pm to 4.30pm session. First come, first served.

Events run on Saturday, May 27 from 9.30am to 4.30pm at the Blue Mountains YHA, 207 Katoomba Street, NSW.

Workshops run on Sunday May 28 and Monday, May 29 at BMCC workshop space, 30 Parke Street Katoomba and at the YHA main venue.

Free Illustration themed exhibitions are on at galleries, cafes and restaurants in and around Katoomba throughout May.

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