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2017 Herring Island Summer Arts Festival - Review

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How many of you can put your hands up and say you've been to Herring Island? Ashamedly, I couldn't, of this little known to the people of Melbourne, despite it's prominent position in the Yarra River; man-made Island. Hence when I wrote about the Herring Island Summer Arts Festival; loving art in all its forms, it was a 'no-brainer' to take the opportunity and go on that lil short boat ride across to Herring Island.

The Exhibition runs through till late April 2017 on weekends and includes Australia Day (26 Jan), Labour Day (13 Mar) and Easter Monday (17 Apr) 2017. See here for dates of the various exhibits, each occupying a few weekends, starting with Sculptures, Basketmakers, Contemporary Art and last but not least, A4 Art.

Though free to attend the exhibitions, donations are happily accepted and I do hope you'll donate as it's much needed and used for the upkeep of Herring Island.

Accessible only by boat, Herring Island in the Yarra River is but 3kms from the city. Run by Parks Victoria, a punt operates to take you across from the Como Landing to the Herring Island Landing. If the service I received was anything to go by, the operator of the boat was amazingly kind, gentle and helpful to all his customers on the day, many including the elderly and some with disabilities.

The easiest way to find the landing would be to head for, or set your GPS to the Kanteen Cafe at 150 Alexandra Ave, South Yarra. There's a lot of parking on the roadside across from the cafe and up and down the Avenue. Take a walk up just past the cafe and there are stairs that'll take you down to the Como Landing where you'll see the punt going back and forth to the Herring Island Landing. It'll cost you $2 per person or $5 per family. Pensioners, unemployed and children under 12 go free. The punt takes up to 12 people and doesn't have a timetable, but runs on demand between 11am and 5pm. Read here about its services.

On the way back, the breezy Kanteen riverside cafe with outdoor tables and a laid-back vibe that serves all-day-breakfast is the perfect spot to park yourself for a cuppa and something to eat. The Herring Island landing is visible just across from the cafe and there's a pleasant 'walking path' if you're feeling energetic.

I was rather excited to see the artist/sculptor/ceramist Elnaz Nourizadeh in attendance. Having used the image of her sculpture, Punch Out (because I was enthralled by it) in both my articles about the exhibition, it was a real treat to have an up-close and personal chat with her.

From Iran, Elnaz has only been in Melbourne since 2013. Artistry runs in the family, with her parents making handmade lampshades throughout her formative years. Her parents noticed her love of clay and sculpting from a very young age, when she would put clay on her body and make her own sculptures. By the age of 14, she had a clear vision of her passionate dance with clay, which has only grown in strength.

Though her love was in creating, Elnaz studied Mechanical Engineering Design at University, 'to get an education'. She never looked back at it, however, it has honed the way she looks at her creations and it has had some influence in the way she works. She is however inspired by music and paintings and her sculptural pieces are straight from the heart and her life experiences in Tehran. For instance, I asked her what the feet she had sculpted was all about.

She told me the news of her younger brother getting married impacted on her, which led to the creation of the feet. The sculpture titled 'The Dance of Marriage', represents the need to have two strong feet to stand on, in the responsibilities of getting married.

A gentle young woman with an obvious fire and love of colour, check out her gallery on her website, she's been teaching pottery/ceramics and a variety of techniques since the age of 23, and continues to do so in Melbourne. You can contact her through her website and Facebook page in regard to classes or to simply shop for pieces made by this artist. Her creations are also available through stockists in the CBD, Brunswick, Fitzroy North, Queensland and New Zealand.

When you get to the exhibition, you'll have the opportunity to vote for your favourite pieces. Do grab the little booklet, which is filled with personal statements from some of the participating artists, making it an interesting read, and a walk through experiences that have shaped them.

Though but a small exhibition, it's a wonderful opportunity to support our local artists and have an adventure at the same time. Life would be pretty bland without art and creativity.

Straight up, don't expect to find a lot of amusements or entertainment on Herring Island. Hopefully you've googled it by now and can appreciate the finer points of this piece of nature. I was a happy little vegemite, just enjoying the peacefulness, the vegetation, walking the little sculpture trail and attending the exhibition, taking the time to look at every piece and appreciate all the creativity that went into it. The punt across and back was of course the cherry on top.

There's a big park area with some gas bbqs for use, and it would be a perfectly peaceful day out for families to have a little bbq or a picnic, and perhaps play ball or a bit of cricket, and just enjoy spending time together, bonding as a family. Don't forget there are 3 other exhibitions to follow after the sculptures, so I'll definitely be heading back for each and every one of them. Truth be known, I really love the little punt across and back.

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Why? Herring Island Summer Arts Festival 2017
When: 14 Jan to 17 Apr 2017
Where: Herring Island, Richmond, VIC
Cost: Free to attend - donations accepted at each exhibition
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