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ART BALL @ Art Gallery of WA gets 8.5/10

Art Ball @ Art Gallery of WA

w/ San Cisco, Priscilla, Feels, The Huxleys, Yummy, Gendermess, DJ Aslan
Saturday, May 25, 2019


Fairy lights, glitter, sequins – the crowd hovering outside the Art Gallery of Western Australia were certainly turning heads. A far cry from the usual demure atmosphere of the gallery, everyone was dressed in their sparkly best for an evening of avant-garde fashion, music, and art – the annual Art Ball. There was no core exhibition providing this year’s theme (previously we have seen the Italian masters and sneaker freaks). So, although Desert River Sea: Portraits of the Kimberley was open to view, the ball theme was Electric Dreams.

Entering the gallery, guests walked the sparkling red and pink carpet to have their pictures taken like true A-listers before being handed a glass of bubbles and getting free reign of the gallery. It’s not often you get to party in such a stately building; it certainly sets a glamorous tone. Across two levels, the night centres around a stage set up in the main foyer. The grand spiral staircase was dripping in silver tinsel and lights were throwing a rainbow of colours across the floor.

Upstairs a decadent grazing table was being constantly replenished with cheeses, breads and meats, and waiters were at the ready to refill your glass as soon as it looked slightly sipped. Downstairs the café had been turned into the ‘Electric Eatery’ where bowls of mac & cheese or beef cheeks & mash were waiting to be eaten. Later in the night, this became a sundae bar! DIY ice cream sundaes are so much fun when you’ve had a couple of drinks. How many doughnuts, wafers or cherries can you balance on one sundae? This was the chance to find out. Plus cocktails were on hand for those who fancied something a bit fruitier. It was a massive step up for the food and drink service, there wasn’t a hungry or thirsty person all night.

The gallery itself had become a labyrinth; around every corner was something to discover. This year there were two ‘bedrooms’ which were perfect for sore feet and sharing secrets (or saliva as was sometimes the case). One was strewn with electric vines, the other was part of an interactive light projection. There were also a handful of very ‘instagramable’ neon signs and installations dotted around (#artball). The nude life drawing returned, but this time the models donned glowing masks, and nothing else. Easels were set up for those wanting to try their hand at some drawing, even local artist Pippa McManus was seen having a go! However, it was the Bubble Pop Ball Pit that had the biggest queue all night. It was hard to imagine the avant-garde outfits surviving a ball pit, but it proved very popular.

As always, the fashions were a true highlight, particularly those of roving performers The Huxleys. Dressed as giant sparkling lightning bolts, then glittering lips, and finally hot pink, fluffy unicorn horns, they interacted with the crowd, posing for plenty of photos and generally strutting their stuff. As did the inimitable cabaret ensemble Yummy, whose constant outfit changes were amazing, not to mention the towering heels they danced in. The group’s Valerie Hex was the night’s MC and added the perfect amount of electricity to the proceedings. Plus, local outfit Gendermess returned, releasing their fabulous creatures to roam around the venue and dancing in sparkling sound suits.


This year’s music was 100% Perth bands, and they were all so great. Local duo Feels, who have been making waves of late, kicked the night off with some percussive, synth-driven grooves. These are the kind of feels we all need to catch! Following on was electro-pop outfit Priscilla, who embodied the Electric Dreams theme perfectly with some disco-tinged bops. Headlining was San Cisco, who enraptured the crowd with lots of singalongs. It was great to see such a diverse age group of people singing and dancing to them! Between bands, there were drag performances, dancers, and even cheerleaders. Plus DJ Aslan, who whipped up the dance floor with some R&B, pop, and plenty of hits care of divas like Beyoncé. Accompanied on stage by the Yummy and Gendermess dancers, his final set was a perfect injection of party to ensure every last person standing had a wiggle.

It’s near impossible to fault the Art Ball. The only way to do so is to compare it to previous years. This year the installations and décor didn’t seem as exciting as last, it would have been fabulous to have a few more interactive pieces. On the other hand, the bar was raised in food and drink service, and the music was spot on. If only we could have kept going all night! Overall, it was an incredible experience once again and I can’t wait for Art Ball 2020.


Photos by Huxley Ellen


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