ART lovers will have a chance to view, purchase and vote for their favourite pieces during the first-ever virtual Gunning Arts Festival launching next Saturday, April 18.
From paintings to photography, prints and multi-media, the exhibition attracted close to 50 entries that are now in the running for the people's choice award, The Picture House Art Prize.
"There were so many great entries; it has been very challenging choosing finalists. They will make for a terrific online exhibition," festival patron and Gunning's The Picture House Gallery owner Margarita Georgiadis said.
Finalists will be announced on the festival's Facebook page this Friday, April 10 and the exhibition will be on the festival's website from April 18 until May 10.
The winner will be announced on May 16 and will receive a Derivan Matisse Prize Pack valued at $500 and an offer to stage a solo exhibition at The Picture House Gallery in 2021.
Designs entered into the festival's Wearable Art Online Exhibition will also be uploaded online.
Artists and performers have been busy photographing and videoing their content for online viewers after festival organisers decided to go ahead under the coronavirus restrictions and go online.
"Some of these are already ready and the personal touch works exceptionally well, you feel you are at home with the creator having a relaxed chat over afternoon tea," festival organiser Michelle Storey said.
Festival-goers will be able to enjoy the exhibition plus concerts, book readings and a theatrical performance from the comfort of their home on their computer, laptop or mobile phone.
Jazz musicians George Washingmachine and Ruby Jackson and Celtic band Mad Kelpie Playdate will upload concerts recorded for the festival; local authors Gregory Baines and Pam Kensit will read excerpts from their books; Wild Voices Music Theatre will perform the playwright Millicent Armstrong; and Gunning and District Historical Society will showcase Pye Cottage's historical display.
Even Ms Georgiadis and husband Max Cullen, who is also a festival patron, have created a special video to officially open the festival with.
Ms Storey said going online also meant art lovers could connect with artists and performers and ask them questions.
"It has been a lot of work to pull together a high-quality online arts festival in a short period of time, but I think the result will be spectacular and people are already commenting that we should continue to have an online component in future festivals," she said.
"We are also glad that we can provide some benefit to the community and financial return to artists at this time when their other income has largely evaporated."
The full schedule is on the festival's website: www.gunningartsfestival.com/
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