There’s nothing like relocating to the countryside and having art happenings find you. The warehouse launch of Orange’s new PopArt Collective blew our minds, and simultaneously reassured us our migration from Abu Dhabi to the vineyards was one of the smartest moves we’ve made.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a building facade uplighted in Orange before, so even before we stepped into the warehouse we were amazed. And let’s backtrack here – warehouse party in Orange? hell yeah! Stepping into Sam’s Automotive (an old flour mill repurposed as a pop-up art gallery/ wine bar/ live performance space for the weekend) was like stepping straight into any of the art events I’ve been to in Surry Hills, Dublin or Abu Dhabi – but with local artists, local art, local wine (this is a huge bonus, believe me), local food and zero pretension. The crowd was awesome.
Milling around at the entrance, enveloped by the DJ soundscape and the warehouse vibe feast for the senses, we were given a card to hang on a wishing tree for the opportunity to win a piece of fresh PopArt at the end of the evening. Oh the joy: I’m quite partial to the wishing tree concept after spending a few days wandering around Kyoto temples once upon a time.
Then it was straight to the bar. Run by the superb crew of the Union Bank Wine Bar, this was an event bar like no other – serving up some of the best the region has to offer with Printhie wines & sparkling (I’m already a fan) and handcrafted pale ale from Badlands Brewery.
Invigorating art from the ten current artists of the PopArt Collective lit up the warehouse walls and caverns, our favourite part of all this was how workbenches and tools had just been pushed against walls and absorbed into the installation. I kind of lingered at the corner where Amy Hick’s exquisite Porcelain wall pieces were on display, if I described them as amazingly delicate white porcelain doilies formed as eccentric coral I’d have to admit I have no idea what I’m talking about. On the night, I drank a glass of Printhie Swift Cuvée while looking at them and then went and bought one.
The pure highlight of the evening was a live performance by a cellist and violinist from The Noise. Could I describe it as classical slash reverb jazz spontaneous improvisation? Really not quite sure what it was, apart from totally heavenly. I was on my third glass of sparkling by this stage, so once the performance finished I went and bought the CD. You should too.
This party ended like all good warehouse parties should, with everyone smoking and drinking on the footpath outside. I was with new-to-town artist Curtis Peasley who waxed lyrical for several minutes about the local renaissance (thank you Badlands, I think), and we both agreed it was kind of fortunate to have returned to the region in time to catch the first wave.
The PopArt Collective is aiming to hold local pop-up gallery regional events at least twice a year, they’ll surprise us with the art and the venues each time. Where to next we wonder? Sky’s the limit. Keep a track of them on their Facebook page or follow them on twitter.