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It's Byron Bay's Loss that Splendour in the Grass has gone...


Splendour may be gone, at least for the time being, but it’s message lives on in an exhibition of art celebrating urban youth culture.

For the past three years, Retrospect Galleries has hosted an annual showcase of work by young urban artists, timed to coincide with the local youth culture festival, Splendour in the Grass.

And whilst Splendour has gone elsewhere to celebrate its tenth anniversary, the Gallery says they will still go ahead with their exhibition, as a remembrance that Byron is home to a diverse population, including the young.

Retrospect Galleries Director Bree Delian says Retrospect seeks to work cooperatively with all of the major events in the area, to enhance the visitor experience and add another dimension to the events that these organisations promote. As part of their program this year they have presented shows that tie in with the Byron Bay Film Festival and with Bluesfest.  They are currently working closely with artsCape to host the biennial’s indoor sculpture exhibition.  And they are also preparing for a new exhibition opening in August, in conjunction the upcoming Byron Bay Writers Festival.

“Splendour is one of Byron’s most successful homegrown festivals, attracting both locals and people from around Australia who travel considerable distances to come here for the weekend,” Delian comments.

“We have loved putting on a show in conjunction with this event, because it is such a celebration of youth culture and provides us with an opportunity to present cutting edge ideas.”

Delian recognises that there has been discussion about the types of events that Byron does and doesn’t want to encourage, but says she doesn’t believe it’s a matter of pitting one type of event against the other.  “A lot of events that are happening now are appealing to the 40 plus market.  Young people are also important,” she says.  “They are the future of the area. Without them how will we refresh the town-”

As someone who grew up in the Northern Rivers, Delian says she is very concerned that Byron is on the brink of losing the magic that made it unique. “Part of the magic of Byron comes from the festivals that attract a dynamic younger audience to the area, constantly challenging our ageing population to connect with the reality of contemporary society in the wider world,” she continues. “I also believe that the ideas and emotions some young people are expressing opens a door to an important element of our society and helps us look at everyday issues that are of concern.”

In the past couple of years Retrospect’s annual urban art show has showcases cutting edge works from young artists around the world, exploring themes such as consumerism, greed, poverty, homelessness, fear, conformity, uniformity and boredom, through diverse media including pop art, street art, stencil, drawing, painting, printing and mixed media.

This year the Gallery will broaden the show to embrace contemporary tattoo culture, in particular the emergence of the custom artist/tattooist and recognition in the art world of their original works on the human canvas.

As a local business owner Delian says she welcomes the influx of young people to the area that is associated with Splendour, for all of the energy and interest that this young crowd bring to the area.

“Recently we had a young couple come in who had seen our first urban art show, Where Mighty Giants Dwell, back in 2008,” she says. “They fell in love with Byron when they came here for Splendour a couple of years ago and came back.  This is how the visitor cycle is perpetuated.”

“Despite the element of young people who get carried away each year, we will miss the Splendour crowd in 2010. We hope that through our show some of the spirit of Splendour will live on.”

Revolution of Art + Tattooed open at Retrospect Galleries, Byron Bay 6pm Friday July 16, with a live tattooing demo in the Gallery, and fine bevvies sponsored by local brewers Stone and Wood.  Everyone is welcome, young and old alike.

You can view the Exhibition here...

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