Culture Shock

Life

Behind the glitz and glamour of the ART BALL is a collective of Perth locals with a spectacular vision for a more vibrant city.

A ubiquitous magic lingers in the evening air in Perth these days. An almost palpable sense of possibility – of what the night could hold, of wonderful venues yet to discover, of who you may bump into. Never is this sensation more intoxicating than on the evening of Perth’s annual ART BALL.

Likened by some to the Met Gala, ART BALL rolls out its red carpet for culture connoisseurs, Perthonalities and any fashionista worth their Chanel 2.55. The annual gala sees a seamless fusion of fashion and glamour collide with world-class art, enlivened by award-wining music, show-stopping performances and a sensorial fitout that’s bound to delight. ART BALL is no ordinary soiree – it deftly bypasses the ho-hum black tie model of sit down courses at tables of 10. Instead, a stand-up sumptuous cocktail menu and flowing French bubbles keep guests satiated while they soak up a dynamic concoction of art, music, pop culture and new technology.

However, beyond the shiny surface lays a more altruistic motivation. While government policy has recognised the necessity to instil culture in Perth, it seems it is the young, creative people on the ground who have been most proactive in implementing change. The Art Ball Advisory Committee is a collective of such individuals, under the tutelage of Grant Capriotti – widely known as the director of public relations agency Muse Bureau. Each member believes that engaging Perth’s people is the first step in generating a more vibrant city.

“Young people have grown up in a time when they have been encouraged to question the way things work and have been exposed to an accelerating period of change, which means they have the skills suited to these types of change,” Grant says.

With many starting their careers amid a challenging economic period, Grant says these younger generations have adapted to become good creative thinkers and problem solvers. “They are resourceful and open to trying new things,” he says. “Not being bound by the way things have always been done – or challenging them out of necessity – sets them in good stead to focus on transformation rather than the status quo.”

“Young people have grown up in a time when they have been encouraged to question the way things work and have been exposed to an accelerating period of change, which means they have the skills suited to these types of change,” Grant says.

The diverse backgrounds of the Committee sees the event benefit from varied experience and the networks of each member. It is made up of: stylist and writer Emma Bergmeier; artist Elle Campbell; director of Be Media Jordan Fogarty; director of Minderoo and the Walk Free Foundation Grace Forrest; actor Sophia Forrest; AGWA Foundation councillor Sandy Honey; Vogue west coast contributor and co-founder of WelleCo Andrea Horwood, along with Paul O’Connor and Elle Peter of WelleCo; UberEATS regional marketing manager Harrison Kennedy; fashion designer Poppy Lissiman; Kate Parker of FORM; and Luke Whelan, founder of Perth Is Ok. They come together to dream up spectacular creative concepts for activations and programming for ART BALL, which the team at Muse Bureau then make a reality.

“We all operate in very different spaces that require different sets of skills and thinking,” Grant says. “The end result is that we can draw on different life and business experiences to curate an event that is appealing, and hopefully memorable, to a wide range of people.”

The Art Ball Committee is a breakaway group of the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) Foundation Council, which aims to raise funds to procure new and exciting works. This sub group was formed to explore how a younger generation might be better engaged with the gallery, however by its third year the Committee has found that ART BALL has resonated with a more universal age range of 18-80.

“This psychographic was hungry for ‘new’,” says Committee member Paul O’Connor. “The night breaks down barriers and stereotypes and allows the community to come together and experience the Art Gallery – perhaps for the first time – in an exciting and interactive way.”

Paul believes ART BALL sheds a spotlight on the culture that already exists in Perth, while also nurturing new off shoots and emerging talent. “Over the night we showcase a variety of creative fields – not just those associated with ‘high art’, but across all creative areas including music, dance, performance, fashion, interior design, illustration and so on,” he says. “Perth is a city that supports its creative youth, we are lucky they are seen and heard!”

“We all operate in very different spaces that require different sets of skills and thinking,” Grant says. “The end result is that we can draw on different life and business experiences to curate an event that is appealing, and hopefully memorable, to a wide range of people.”

Grant believes the people of Perth are now seeking out such multi-layered experiences and that making art more accessible to everyone should be a priority – because a more cultured city is undoubtedly a more vibrant city.  “I think some people still perceive art galleries in a traditional, conservative way, which doesn’t necessarily resonate with people’s expectations in the contemporary world, where the lines between art, fashion, music, performance and design are no longer so clearly defined,” he says. “ART BALL gives those who might be afraid of, or feel that they don’t understand art, permission to explore it and engage with it at their own pace in a fun, exciting environment.”

So why does the marriage of fashion and art make the perfect recipe for culture generation? They are complementary creative expressions, unshackled by rules and limited only by the imagination. They both possess the ability to

invoke a reaction – whether dislike, delight or the spectrum between. Both are highly subjective and supremely personal, allowing the viewer to interpret it through the lens of their own experiences and viewpoints. And, if the past and present have anything to teach us, it’s that the two make a powerful team!

“History is peppered with successful collaborations that fuse art and fashion,” Grant says. “From the iconic Yves Saint Laurent x Piet Mondrian collaboration in 1965, Björk x Alexander McQueen from 1997-2010, through to David Lynch x Christian Louboutin and Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton in 2007, and Pharrell William’s collaboration with Adidas in 2017.”

Speaking professionally, Grant believes teaming the disciplines is simply good PR. “Fashion, occasionally (and unfairly) judged as one of the more frivolous applied arts, can gain serious cachet by association, while the artist stands to gain ‘cool cred’ from the fashion community, both with the potential to reach new markets,” he says.

ART BALL has indeed achieved that “cred”, according to AGWA director Stefano Carboni. “The Art Ball committee has brought energy and fresh thinking that complements the Gallery team’s knowledge, and it’s exciting to be able to tap into WA’s younger creatives through the committee,” says Dr Carboni. “It is undoubtedly helping to reposition the Gallery in the minds of younger generations as a relevant institution with a significant role to play in forging the cultural fabric of WA – plus, we put on the best party in town!”

“History is peppered with successful collaborations that fuse art and fashion,” Grant says. “From the iconic Yves Saint Laurent x Piet Mondrian collaboration in 1965, Björk x Alexander McQueen from 1997-2010, through to David Lynch x Christian Louboutin and Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton in 2007, and Pharrell William’s collaboration with Adidas in 2017.”

Interestingly – and by pure coincidence – this year both ART BALL and the Met Gala will be themed around the Renaissance art exhibitions current to their venues. At AGWA, last year’s exhibition was The Rise of Sneaker Culture, which naturally led itself to a more street theme for ART BALL. This year the featured exhibition is A Window on Italy: The Corsini Collection, Masterpieces from Florence.

“We are basing a lot of the event on the ideas of Renaissance and Baroque themes, inviting guests to walk the red carpet into a world of mystery, mythology and decadence,” Grant says. “AGWA will be transformed into an opulent realm of wonder and discovery with sensory experiences of palatial proportions.”

Leaving Florence for the first time in 600 years, the collection features Renaissance and Baroque paintings by Italian artists such as Botticelli, Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Pontormo – whose extraordinary works have been preserved over centuries, surviving the devastation of World War II and the great flood of Florence. This personal collection from the eminent Corsini family includes portraits, landscapes, mythological and religious paintings, plus fascinating decorative objects and furniture from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries. It will be showing at AGWA from February 24 through to June 18, 2018.

With ART BALL now a flagship event for AGWA and a highlight of Perth’s social calendar, Grant says the Committee is thrilled to be contributing to a more vibrant Perth.

“I’d like to think that the event is a unique beast that infuses culture into the city,” Grant says. “If, because of ART BALL, people come back to the Gallery during the year, even better.”

Art Ball: 26 May 2018

Tickets:

http://www.artball.com.au