AFTER moving to Australia in 2009, it didn’t take long for Natimuk’s Sarah Natali to fall in love with the small town and its art scene.
She quickly became involved in Horsham’s Art is… festival and next year, she will take the reins as the festival’s general manager for the first time.
Miss Natali moved from the UK.
She said she was searching for sunshine and on days like Wednesday, when the mercury reached 40 degrees, she said she had definitely found the warmer climate she was looking for.
“I first moved to Robinvale and I arrived there in winter,” she said.
“If I got there in summer, I might have stayed, but I ended up going to Natimuk to do rockclimbing.
“It was such a nice community and I fell in love with it – I’m not going anywhere now, I’m quite happy here.”
It wasn’t long before Miss Natali discovered the region’s Art is… festival.
The annual festival provides opportunities for Wimmera artists, partners, organisations, groups and individuals to get involved in art in their community.
The event is a co-creation festival, meaning it relies on the collaboration between different groups in the region.
Miss Natali first became involved in the festival in 2012.
“My friend was involved and lots of people from Natimuk are part of it, so I had heard a lot about it,” she said.
“My first ever involvement was watching a dress rehearsal of the production ‘Flock’.”
A group of Horsham and Natimuk performers were involved in ‘Flock’ – an aerial theatre production at the Horsham Town Hall, which told the tale of the Wimmera’s corella population.
The group worked with world-renowned theatre company Strange Fruit for the project.
Miss Natali said she was blown away by the performance. “It was spectacular,” she said.
“There was several people on poles moving backwards and forwards and flying through the air..
“It was a great project, which lots of community engagement, and I knew I wanted to get involved in the festival.
“When I was invited to apply to be involved the next year, I jumped at the chance.
“Since then I’ve been involved in most years, except for one when I was overseas.”
At this year’s festival, Miss Natali was a production manager and was heavily involved in the ‘Move On’ project. She said the project was a highlight of her time with Art is…
‘Move On’ was a community art project where over a series of workshop a mechanical moving masterpiece was created by the community.
“We had a woman from Natimuk climbing up milk crates and hanging from a cherry picker in the middle of Horsham – it was amazing,” Miss Natali said.
She was also involved in street art projects this year, which included painting a new mural in Roberts Avenue, Horsham.
Miss Natali said overall, it was a fantastic festival to be involved with.
“The atmosphere is always really cool and I’m looking forward to next year,” she said. “I can’t wait to meet new partners and get to work on new projects.
“My favourite part about the festival is the community engagement and working with so many nice people – we are always looking for more people though.”
The 2018 Art is… festival will run from June 1 to 10.
Miss Natali said she was looking forward to being the festival’s general manager.
She will work with festival director Paul Kooperman.
The theme of next year’s festival is Art is… a footprint.
“It’s about making your mark,” Miss Natali said.
“It’s quite a broad theme, so we are open to suggestions and hoping to hear from anyone who wants to get involved.
“We are always looking for more volunteers.
“It can be hard in Horsham to get people away from football and netball, but sport and art can work together, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.”
Miss Natali said anyone who wanted to get involved in the festival should get in touch with her.