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At the 2009 launch of Avant Garden in Laurel Bank Park

From left to right:  Kylie Goldthorpe, Jennifer Wright, Shannon Cook, Dana McCown, Bev Bloxham

drama under the arch

Avant Garden had a new exciting format during Carnival of Flowers September 2009 .

Arts Council Toowoomba (ACT)  ensured that Avant Garden 2009 again showcased the region as a vital and creative centre for the arts and engaged the community and artists during Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers 18 – 27 September 2009. A new feature in 2009 was Performance Ephemera where individuals, small troupes and School groups performed in parks and gardens around the city during the Carnival. Graphic artists  also had opportunities to demonstrate and display their works for sale.

Artists in Gardens
Artists in Gardens was a new feature in 2009 with artists working in parks and gardens, interacting with the visitors to the festival. Works on paper and canvas were produced on site, giving the public the opportunity to witness artists in action. As this project is held in spring, a time of renewal and regeneration, artists were asked to consider spring and carnival as an integral part of the project.
At a number of locations in the Botanical gardens, Queens Park and the private exhibition gardens, artist worked â  plein air for a 3 hour session. ACT  provided tables and easels, signage and support for the site where artists were also able to sell their works. Participating artists were encouraged to return to the site at least once during the carnival to show the original work/s finished and to start more works. Our aim was to showcase local artists who draw and paint whilst giving the public a view to the processes involved.

Arts Council Toowoomba (ACT) has always hoped to open Avant Garden to a wider audience and group of artists. To fulfil this dream and engage a larger group of artist practitioners this year not only were  2 dimensional artists working in the public gardens but an array of performers: street theatre groups, school drama groups, dancers, musicians, jugglers and acrobats performed throughout our public spaces. The subjects for the Artists in Gardens works were drawn from all these performers and scenes in our iconic Carnival of Flowers. We envisioned a much broader theme than flowers for  work to be derived from.  We also wished to encourage artists working in many styles, from abstract and colour field, through expressionism and impressionism to photo-realism, to participate.

After dancing in the Park and then in windy Ruthven Street, Ros Billingsley wrote this:

A Chance to Star, by Nova.

We were picked to be stars, to dance in the street

With a vanguard of honour to boost our conceit.

I wore a new dress, diaphanous, white,

It floated around me, and shone in the light,

My hat sported ribbons in yellows and greens

My apricot flowers matched his shirt and white jeans,

I would pose and gyrate in my new floating dress —

With grace and with elegance we would impress.

With fast fancy steps, he could blow you away

But I begged for no intricate footwork today.

Let me twirl around slowly to show off my dress

Float softly and dreamily as we progress.

Instead he led off in a frantic quickstep,

Then set about jiving with vigour and pep.

‘Roll in, now roll out,’ I heard him call out,

He shouted commands as he threw me about.

Somebody bumped me; someone else fell.

Through the crowd came a car with a foul exhaust smell.

A great squall of wind now snatched off my hat,

Which was tied to my neck.  Like a crazy wild bat

It battered my face, it battered my back.

It thrashed around furiously, whirl, slap, and whack!

Then all seemed to calm, though our music still played,

Like swans our finale could now be displayed,

There was time for a flourish, a curtsey, a smile.

We could finish in glory, in triumphant style.

We heard the crowd clapping. He said, “It’s all done,

They won’t stand around just to see us have fun.”

And before I could stop him, he’d danced us away

Off the street, out of sight, where I sobbed in dismay.