Launceston: a sleepy northern-Tasmanian town, and next on the list to be turned into a globally renowned art hub when Mona Foma turns up in January 2019.
But Launceston has had its own quietly brilliant arts festival for eight years – you just probably haven’t heard of it.
Junction Arts is held in some of Launceston’s most unusual spaces, from warehouses and parks, to churches, over five days in September. A tight schedule of 25 events includes music, visual art and theatre performances.
Festival creative director Greg Clarke – also creative director of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras – is passionate about showcasing Launceston; he says “97 per cent of the program is Tasmanian”.
When Broadsheet chats to Clarke he’s making costumes for Launceston’s roller-derby squad, the Devil State Derby League, for a public performance at Junction Arts. He appreciates how hands-on the comparatively small-scale festival allows him to be.
“At Mardi Gras I get to design some of the floats, but I can’t get in there and make them,” Clarke says. “And because we’re working with Tasmanians, a lot of the performances are world premieres. So you’re going to see things you’ve never seen before, and might not see again.”
Breathtaking, held in a grand, old, red-brick church, features South Indian classical singer Sakthi Ravitharan, local pop songstress Medhanit Barratt and indie post-punk band EWAH & The Vision of Paradise from Hobart. Infinite Corpse is an interactive installation featuring the designs of Hobart artist Tom O’Hern. The festival hub will host a schedule of Tasmania’s best music, and the Tamar Valley Feast will show off the state’s best food and wine.
Junction Arts Festival runs from September 5 to September 9, 2018.