Kennedy Art Ball @ Art Gallery of WA
w/ Architecture in Helsinki, The Brass Cartel feat Odette Mercy, The Potbelleez, The Southern River Band, Ukiyo ft. Your Girl Pho, West Australian Opera, DJ Zara Bryson
Saturday, May 26, 2018
The exterior walls of the Art Gallery of WA were lit up with flames, the red carpet was rolled out, and waiting outside, everyone was dressed in their best avant-garde finery for the third annual Art Ball. We were promised art, fashion, and music, and this decadent gala certainly delivered.
Handed sparkling wine as we entered, we were greeted by stunning drag queens and a beautiful ballroom in the centre of the gallery. Inflatable horses, sparkling lights, and hundreds of candles created a romantic atmosphere across two levels. Grazing tables and multiple bars on each floor ensured we would all be fed and watered, and the ever stylish Zara Bryson was atop her DJ altar, creating the party mood.
A Window on Italy: The Corsini Collection, an exhibition featuring artworks from the Italian masters, set the theme for the night—from the décor through to the menu (the late night pasta bar was a saviour!). Upstairs in the Koala Parlour beds were set up for sore feet while Italian films like La Dolce Vita screened silently, and downstairs The Confessional took a different approach to Catholic repentance. Guests confessed their sins (which were projected anonymously above the bands in the ballroom with hilarious results), and the penance involved drinking plenty of champagne and praying to Queen Beyonce.
As well as the exhibitions, there was art around every corner. Fashion illustrator Michelle Pike was painting people in their outfits, multiple easels were set up for those who fancied trying their hand at life drawing, and people donning incredible wearable artworks roved through the crowd. The creative team at Gendermess had set sound suits, flower people, and all kinds of mysterious creatures loose on stage and throughout the gallery. It was truly a fantastical setting.
Central to everything were the bands. It was an unusual line-up that had some sceptics but was perfect for a crowd of diverse tastes and ages. Given that the two headliners, Architecture in Helsinki and The Potbelleez, aren’t particularly current, the music didn’t seem to be the major drawcard to the event. However, recognisable hits were the order of the day and the dancefloor was full from start to finish, so it definitely worked, especially when some of the aforementioned ‘creatures’ joined in the antics dancing and driving the crowd wild.
Musically it was the local acts that proved most impressive. Ukiyo featuring Your Girl Pho started proceedings with a cool ambience perfect for early on. The Southern River Band were just a hoot with Cal Kramer as the ultimate frontman. The Brass Cartel featuring Odette Mercy were an absolute force on stage, playing covers of party anthems. Towards the end of the night The Blonde Ambition floorshow took over, with an ode to Madonna, hip hop dancers, and aerial tricks.
It’s not often you get to party inside an art gallery of such status. It truly is an incredible space for such a unique event and provided the backdrop to a night of sensory amazement and opulence. It’s not too early to start planning next year’s outfit.
Photos by Huxley Ellen