After two years of postponements due to the pandemic and floods organisers of Art Byron will forge ahead with the four day celebration of creativity, culture and diversity starting on September 30 at venues across Byron Shire.

Asking the question do we choose Love or Fear?, the inaugural Art Byron will gather local and nationally celebrated artists for a feast of events including exhibitions, gallery talks, music, film, a multi-media installation and an art dinner.

Art Byron founder Lisa Cowan said the gathering would bring the local arts community together and provide a dynamic platform for contemporary art. “Art Byron will provide the opportunity for visitors to experience the depth of the northern rivers art scene and see the calibre of artists working across our region,” she says.

Groundwork for Art Byron ‘Love or Fear’ was envisioned by renowned First Nation woman artist Karla Dickens who lived through the devastating March flood events that swept across Bundjalung country around Lismore, the place she has called home for the last 20 years.

Dickens, standing knee deep and defiant in the flood waters, was the subject of 2022’s Archibald prize winning portrait by fellow Aboriginal artist, Blak Douglas.

Reflecting on events over the past two year’s tumult Ms Dickens said that now in a time when “uncertainty was our new personal and collective ground,” she would be choosing love over fear.

Art Byron will include three main exhibitions all curated by Ms Dickens. All galleries will be open to the public with a gold coin donation.

Byron School of Art (BSA) in Mullumbimby will host an exhibition featuring neon and sculptural works by Hiromi Tango together with works by Lismore based artist Michael Donnelly who has created a series looking at effects of the recent flood events in Lismore.

The BSA show will also include works by internationally acclaimed photographic artist Polly Borland, local differently abled artist Zion Levi, works in paint and clay by artist Stephen Bird and a floral installation by Selena Murray.

The BSA exhibition will open from September 30 and will also host a series of talks curated by Ashley Ralph from Lismore Art Gallery.

During the exhibition the BSA building will be transformed into a multi-media installation at night featuring video projections by John Mundine, Justine Muller and Ryan Andrew Lee along with large collage works by Laith McGregor.

Down at the Byron arts industrial estate, THOM Gallery will host an exhibition by the Tennant Creek Brio opening at 4pm on Friday September 30 at the gallery’s Fern Place space.

The Tennant Creek Brio began life as an Aboriginal men’s art therapy program and were recently included in the Sydney Biennale. The current group’s collective work is a dynamic interplay of Aboriginal desert traditions, abstract expressionism, action painting, found objects, street art and art activism.

“As a First Nation woman, artist, storyteller and environmentalist active at this time on the planet, I am striving to be part of the solution. Love, understanding and art are more comforting and important than ever before.”
– Karla Dickens

First Nation artists and Indigenous cultural experiences are integral to the vision of Art Byron with the ‘Sand and Water’ exhibition, featuring local Bundjalung artists, Michael Philp and Garth Lena opening and contemporary landscape artist, Beki Davies at 4pm on Saturday October 1 at Yeah, Nice gallery’s warehouse space in Byron Bay’s St Agni precinct. Later that same evening Tones Cafe and Braer Studio will play host to the fifth Byron Arts Magazine Art Series Dinner.

Guests will enjoy an outdoor dinner setting that will include a grazing table of local, sustainable, foraged and indigenous ingredients, brought together by Tones owner and local chef, Lukeman.

The dinner will feature leading Australian artists Dr Clare Milledge and Andrew Rewald who will discuss how their practice is informed by the environment with Ashleigh Ralph from Lismore Art Gallery. Both artist’s work will be installed in a collaborative, intertwined display throughout the Braer studio.

Another unique feature of Art Byron will be the Sunseeker Artist Hub which will be the central meeting place for artists throughout the four-day event. The Sunseeker will host events for Art Byron’s three artists in residence – The Tennant Creek Brio, Laith McGregor and Polly Borland as well as a BBQ and Arts Market. To top it off, artist Ozzy Wright and artistic upholsterer Paige Miller are joining forces to transform a room in the Sunseeker motel, into an interactive art installation.

Art Byron will round out their program with an event brought together by Arts at the Eltham who have invited the Surf Film Archive and the nine-piece band Headland to present ‘That was then, this is now’, a compilation of found and restored footage from Australia and New Zealand’s lost surf films.

Internationally regarded artist and local resident, Lisa Sorgini, will also be creating photographic portraits of the artist who contribute to Art Byron.

The inaugural Art Byron gathering is supported through philanthropy and a major partnership with Gold Coast SKODA, the Restart investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund – an Australian Government initiative, and by the NSW Government through Destination NSW and Create NSW.

Friday 30 September – Monday 3 October 2022
Byron Shire, NSW