Have I gone mad? I’m afraid so. But I will tell you a secret. All the best people are….. Lewis Carroll – Alice in Wonderland
Last year at Blue Fringe Arts Exhibition, I ran into Rose who had made and exhibited a gorgeous, over the top, Mad Hatter’s hat. The hat told a story, as all the art in Blue Fringe does. I said I would like to do a shoot with it one day and almost a year down the track it finally happened.
For those who don’t know about Blue Fringe, it is a yearly art and literature prize that runs in conjunction with Mental Health month. Blue Fringe Arts celebrates and acknowledges the creativity of people with a lived experience of mental illness. Based in the Blue Mountains, the Festival is held in October each year to coincide with Mental Health Month.
Blue Fringe Arts originated as the Adrienne Brown Awards in 1992. Adrienne Brown, born in 1969, was a young woman who had a lived experience of schizophrenia. Her long struggle with her illness was relieved, at times, by her love for poetry, the arts and music. Adrienne is remembered in the Blue Fringe Arts and Literature Festival for her passion for creative expression. It is now coming up to it’s 27th year and will be held at Wentworth Falls TAFE from 23rd to 26th October. It’s well worth seeing.
This year, I am the featured artist, and I am so honoured to have been chosen. I have been fortunate and humbled in the past, to have won both the Photography prize as well as the overall art prize. Winning was fantastic, I’m not going to lie. Being chosen as featured artist, unbelievably exciting. But being surrounded by such a diverse group of incredibly talented, creative and passionate people and seeing the difference art makes in lives is by far the greatest thing about Blue Fringe. I have made great friends and love spending time with so many of the participants and the committee.
So last Saturday, while a blanket of snow fell on the Blue Mountains, I was going into a bit of a meltdown. I had about 12 people organised for a big Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. There was a cast of 10 but one couldn’t make it due to the weather. I also had a behind the scenes shooter and someone who was painting faces too, so I was in panic mode at the inclement weather. The venue had already had to be changed to an inside location, due to the sudden cold snap but snow really was pushing the friendship. I love snow. Adore it….. But the roads were closed and the thought of my whole cast of characters not being able to make it sent me into a tail spin.
I had been preparing for this for ages. Making costumes, headdresses, scepters, planning images, researching…. I had borrowed equipment from Purple Sky Productions, my “go to” when I need anything. A portable green screen for a Down the Hole shoot, which I’ve yet to edit and some nice bright lights made for a great set up. The night before the event, Lachlan had helped me start setting up the teaparty. I was not going to be happy if it all fell down. However, Mother Nature was kind and the snow cleared, the roads opened and the shoot went ahead. We had a tea party feast with great conversation, laughter and fun. I did some of the costumes and some of the characters did their own.
The gorgeous Rachael painted the most glorious faces while her partner Richard went to pick up things I’d forgotten. My darling Kirsty was taking behind the scenes images and Nick from Filmclass Pictures came in and did a bit of filming. Everyone got into character and made the shoot so much fun. To be honest, the pictures weren’t as good as they should have been as I was too intent on enjoying the day too, so wasn’t completely in photographer mode. I don’t really mind. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people. The experience was by far the highlight for me.
But here they are. My wonderful cast of characters. I have lots of behind the scenes stuff I will put up soon but for now, let me introduce you to Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts, the White Queen, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Duchess, and of course, TweedleDee and TweedleDum. – All the best people are!