“I install a programme, create a space and control how people might navigate that space,” she says. “It’s a festival done for a reason. We feel most people connect through art and we’re a vehicle for that connection. The way the festival is constructed means the different program strands create greater accessibility and greater entry points.”
The changing demographic of Reservoir means that a lot of artists and makers are moving northwards to a suburb not previously seen as a focus for creative pursuit. “People in Reservoir are making art,” Fuller notes. More than anything, the True North festival aims to be accessible and to be about artistic process rather than completion. “It’s not about the end results,” says Fuller. “Cartography, which is the study of map making, is for us about artists mapping their creative processes, what they’ve gone through to create this work. It aims to demystify artists. Eons ago creativity was a daily part of life in all cultures. It’s only recently on the human timeline that creativity hasn’t been at the forefront of people’s daily lives.”
“There are two programme strands,” Fuller explains. “Art Walking and Art Talking.” The Art Walking strand of True North festival isn’t, as you might think, a guided tour of studios (an idea which didn’t gain traction this year) but Fuller says that might ‘be a goer’ for 2015. “Art Walking is things you would walk to, the physically connected stuff. There are a lot of art spaces in Reservoir, things that are not normally made public. Hop is a community arts space that’s opened up in Reservoir. There’s a gig there on Friday night. We convinced the Red Falcon studio, a glass metal foundry which has relocated to Reservoir, and Dreamlab across the road, to open their doors.”
Fuller says that as a cultural content producer, it’s only in the last five years she has specialised in music and art festival delivery. True North is part of a festival Fuller inherited last year.
“Festivals are massive at the moment,” she notes. True North’s Art Walking program strand sees a wide range of free pop-up and venue events taking place around the one suburb, in non-traditional arts spaces in particular. You might see a cabaret performance in a laundromat, for instance, or, as part of the Cartography strand, an illustrator installing in a florist shop, a sound artist in a cake shop, an abstract photographer installing in a deli or a paper-cutting story teller in a hairdresser’s. As well as exhibitions there are lots of free art workshops; all kinds of art is represented: ‘high’, ‘low’, craft and everything in between, from stitching cardigans to sound art to clowning and life drawing.
Art Talking, on the other hand, is about things people might engage with that don’t involve leaving the house; this might include following bloggers such as Reservoir Dad and Voir Tales, for instance, or being part of online interviews with people who create in their own homes.
“It was the way I could deal with introducing an online program into the festival,” Fuller explains. “We want to generate dialogue with people in Reservoir who make art and foster residents’ interaction and co-creation of initiatives.”
Festival highlights for extraverts include the launch party, The Compass Club pop-up festival hub bar, and the Edwardes Street party (‘a great big outdoor event’) which sees the shopping strip transformed into an entertainment and creative hub. Locals can work with Thinkplay to create cardboard installations, enjoy various interactive arts activities and live acts on stage concluding with a fireworks display.
Local festivals Fuller has enjoyed herself include Melbourne Music Week, Chopped, a custom car culture festival in regional Victoria, and Collingwood’s All Good in the Wood from a few years ago.
“I love things like that – smaller community festivals,” she says. “We should just do it!” Fuller is already excited about the possibilities for next year’s True North Festival. “There will be more next year. We will fill out the whole weekend.” She’d like to see things happening in Darebin similar to events in two festivals out of Canada, Montreal’s Home Theater Festival and Vancouver’s In the House festival – both see performances take place in people’s homes and back yards. Fuller would like to see a residential house become a venue for True North next year. As well as a guided art tour, 2015’s festival will hopefully include La Trobe University’s public art collection. “The La Trobe gallery isn’t usually open over the weekend but I think we can talk them into it,” Fuller says.
BY LIZA DEZFOULI