REVIEW: RAW Newcastle presents ‘SPLENDOUR’
At first glance, Splendour seemed like a regular live music night at the pub. The crowd was buzzing around the bar listening to the sounds of Jade Lee Wright, the evening’s first musical act. A runway protruding from center stage put a considerable distance between the musicians and their audience resulting in a supreme lack of dance floor. That being said, the musicians did their best to engage the crowd with cute anecdotes and original songs. Wright was followed by singer-songwriter Arley Black and Howard Shearman’s tunes finished off the music for the night.
Between each musical act, Splendour’s enthusiastic host, Renee Buckingham, conducted short interviews with theparticipating visual artists. Unfortunately, excessive feedback from the microphone made it difficult to hear the artists’ responses. The interviews were an admirable attempt to recognize the work of visual artists, who often go unnoticed next to their work; however, there was plenty of opportunity to speak to them in-person at their stalls which were sprawled throughout the pub. The visual art set-up was more like a market as opposed to a gallery exhibition. The inclusion of a number of craft items such as handmade jewelry, cups, glass bowls, cloth bags and bookmarks created an atmosphere akin to The Olive Tree or Hunt&Gather Markets. Canvases, sculpture and photography were rare amongst the kitschy macrame plant holders, gemstone necklaces and greeting cards. This was somewhat unexpected since the RAW slogan is “We dig the underground”. Markets like the ones mentioned above give these amazing designers a venue to promote and sell their work. In the future, it would be nice to see RAW seek out artists who may not otherwise find a place to showcase their work. Highlights included massive sharpie illustrations by See Anchor Seven and a full-blown tutorial on working with silver clay by the people at Art Mania Studio.
Following the musical acts were dance performances by Sheree and Maxi Jazz. A few passers-by, no doubt attracted by their flashy and entertaining style, watched the dancers through the windows of the pub.
The fashion show, which featured clothing by Black Dewa, was the evening’s finale. Several models sportingmonochromatic outfits with bold patterns (mainly an upside down cross print) strutted the runway showing off Black Dewa’s designs. The clothing was reminiscent of something you might find at Lair on Hunter Street; avant-garde enough to be considered trendy among friends but also wearable. The gold hair and heavy black makeup by Jade from Elite Hair lent itself to the high-fashion side of things creating a rather sharp, aggressive look for the models.
Overall, the event was a fun night and a great way for Newcastle artists to showcase their work, build relationships and foster their creativity. Newcastle has so much potential to have an amazing arts and culture scene and events like Splendour help to grow the city’s artistic community. If you are an artist living and working in Newcastle you shouldcheck out RAW‘s next event, Paramount, which will take place on August 6th at The Great Northern Hotel.