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From a creative spark to a shining town – illuminARTe Wollondilly Festival

Wollondilly Shire’s first illuminARTe festival is set to shine many spotlights on Picton with projections on some of the township’s landmark buildings, the Walker Corporation lantern parade and illuminated furniture.

The festival will be held from noon to 10pm this Saturday, 11 April with an art exhibition in the Shire Hall Art Spaces on Saturday and Sunday.

Incorporated into the new event is the revamped Picton Harvest Music Festival that will include buskers and local musicians on a stage in Saint Mary McKillop Lane.

Southern Tablelands Regional Arts Board (STARTS) Regional Arts Development Officer, Susan Conroy, said initially the idea was to paint murals onto the buildings.

‘This would have been time consuming, so it was decided to develop the festival on the basis of projecting art onto the buildings.’

‘Some further investigation revealed 2015 was the International Year of Light and Lighting Technology and it was agreed to bring together old and new lighting technologies in projections and sculptured lanterns,’ Ms Conroy said.

STARTS is a key partner with Wollondilly Council in delivering the festival, with the expertise of staff being used in all aspects of its management including sourcing of funding of a $5,000 Country Arts Support Program (CASP) grant.

Ms Conroy said opportunities for mentoring of local artists by professional artists were integrated into the program with renowned digital artist Khaled Sabsabi and professional lantern maker, Kassandra Bossell sharing their expertise.

Born in Lebanon, Mr Sabsabi migrated with his family to Australia in 1978, to settle in Western Sydney. He has worked on major art festivals across Australia with a focus on digital projections. The illuminations have been themed. The School of Arts illumination is themed around the ANZAC Centenary and St Anthony’s Church around Saint Mary McKillop.

Ms Bossell’s work spans the visual, professional and performing arts mediums. She has held workshops with adults and children, including children with disabilities for the festival.

Ms Conroy said STARTS also sourced a free curator workshop run by the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery curator for Wollondilly Arts Group members to help in their preparations for the art exhibition on the festival program.

Wollondilly council community projects and events team leader, Rob Moran, said the town was very excited about Saturday’s festival.

‘We had 30 artworks submitted for consideration for the projections and have shortlisted this to 16 that will be used in part or whole.’

He said council also made the decision not to charge any commission for by stallholders.‘We’ve had a fantastic response to this with 47 market stalls with a mix of eclectic treasures, trinkets, artworks and food and wine traders for Menangle Street,’ Mr Moran said.

‘This festival hasn’t just been about an event to attract visitors. It has built capacity in arts across our community through the workshops and other activities.’

A family fun day will be held at Picton RSL Park, in conjunction with the Picton Chamber of Commerce. From 11.30am to 5.30pm, families will enjoy a raft of activities including a jumping castle, sausage sizzle and fairy floss.

Local food retailers will provide outdoor dining, with businesses throughout the town extending their trading hours until 10pm. Many local businesses are expected to have decorative window displays to celebrate the festival.