Art, Not Apart’s 10th ‘melting pot’ of art and connection

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“Melting Pot”. Photo Martin Ollman.

“TODAY, I, Tomorrow, You” is the 2020 theme for Art, Not Apart, the 10th annual festival, running around NewActon, the Shine Dome, the National Film and Sound Archive and this year, Albert Hall, from March 13-15.

Using art as a metaphor, the name Art, Not Apart was derived from French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s ideas about our need for a connected society in which the you and I merge to become ”we.”

With 15-20,000 visitors expected, more than 200 artists will entertain the public with exhibitions, performance art, music stages, installations, film and moving image, surprise interventions, food and drink, and a great big after-party themed around the sixth deadly sin, gluttony.

John Mackey in “Melting Pot”. Photo Martin Ollman.

For the first time using Albert Hall as a venue, the centre point will be “Melting Pot”, an epic three-hour night of improvised music and live projections from a septet of legendary Canberra professionals who’ve been performing monthly gigs in NewActon Precinct.

Led by John Mackey on tenor sax, with Miroslav Bukowski on trumpet, Greg Stott on guitar, Lachlan Coventry on electric bass, Mark Sutton on drums, Mark Webber on laptop with vocals by Darren Percival, the three hour “jazz safari” will be augmented by live improvised projections.

Drawing on improvised melodies with no preconceived outcome, linked in with loops and interacting with laptop audio input, it will, Mackey tells us, be “interactive and experimental, like a series of short stories.”

He’s the leader of the group and after 21 years at the ANU School of Music, he jumped at the invitation last year from festival producer David Caffery to get together an elite house band and invite other musos as needed for regular jam sessions in NewActon.

“Melting Pot”. Photo Martin Ollman.

Mackey explains, “The whole thing is based on improvising… someone will start and then we’ll pick it up and turn it into a big piece, there’s no preconceived melody like in the American Songbook style… we’re improvising a groove, then elements are stacked on and solos and then we build to a finish.”

Visual arts are a major component of Art, Not Apart, with a free group exhibition at Nishi Gallery called “Today I, Tomorrow You”, curated as usual by Chloe Mandryk and celebrating the 10th anniversary of “Art, Not Apart” with new works from nine artists.

Rinaldo Hartanto, byrd, Nikkayla, Millie Black, Michelle Day, Sophie Dumaresq, Rachel Howie, Kevin Adrian Miller, and Bernadette Smith have all responded with distinct ideas and unique mediums.

Day, for instance, will present “Tread Lightly”, an installation symbolic of a hurricane, while byrd is constructing a towering sentinel made from cardboard. Dumaresq’s photos of Lake George and pink tumbleweed sculptures will consider our present day treatment of the land and consequences in the future.

On Sunday, March 15, Escape Ferocity presents a day party “tech-yes”, techno music and electronic culture, in Albert Hall from 1pm.

And then there’s that explosive late-night after party, “Sound and Fury”, from 8pm-late, also in Albert Hall. Staged by Chenoeh Miller’s Little Dove Theatre Art, it aims to flaunt the skills of performance artists in a party format. With punchy music, theatre and dance threatened, this year it’s going to be a “Best of Sound and Fury”, with ensemble acts from over the 10 years and a record number of guest artists.

You should wear gold.

Sound and Fury: Art, Not Apart, across NewActon, Shine Dome and NFSA, 1-7pm Saturday, March 14, free, details at

“Melting Pot,” Albert Hall, 8-11pm, Friday, March 13, bookings at

“Sound and Fury” after party, Albert Hall, 7.30pm-late, Saturday, March 14, bookings at

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Helen Musa
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