I spent my 2011 season volunteering for the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby as a way of being involved in the grass roots of the Mardi Gras festival. That included selling hearts at Fair Day in the hot sun and manning coat checks at both Toybox and Harbour Party. Mrs Macquarie's Chair is a gorgeous location to host a dance party; it was the first time I have attended and I really understood why it is such a popular party. Rather than post imjages here ( andsince I don't have a decent camera at present) you can get all the photos you want at SX News and the Sydney Star Observer
The big finale for the Mardi Gras festival was the last ever Toybox party at Luna Park. What a party it was! Great music, both upstairs and down, fantastic light show and a really happy crowd. The final show, with a diva suspended above the cowd belting out "Reach for the Stars" has to have been the very best event in the dance party genre that I have witnessed.
As well as the parties there was a veritable visual arts feast this year.... Although most of my time and energy has been invested in the Samoan Congregational Church commission (see previous blogs), I did get to enjoy some of the shows. Iain Dawson Gallery in Paddington hosted Hot in the City and although I just missed the actual exhibition, there were several large canvases of Alun Rhys-Jones still in the stock room I was given a private viewing of Angus Malcolm's beautifully seductive photography.
At Stills Gallery, also in Paddington, William Yang staged a beautiful exhibition of old and new work and used the opportunity to present a new performance piece, an amalgam of several earlier works. I found William's black and white Australian landscapes, shown in the upstairs space, quietly enthralling and a wonderful foil to the somewhat noisier, though delightful, images in the main exhibition.
William is always engaging and entertaining, although this time he did seem a little nervous and the presentation was not quite as smooth as others have been. Several weeks earlier, during Chinese New Year, I was lucky to be invited to attend Meeting at Moree, a joint performance at Belvoir Downstairs between William Yang and Noeline Briggs-Smith that was part of COOLie. The two stories blended well, demonstrating different but parallel histories of vilification.