A WHOLE NEW WORLD

THE AUS­TRALIAN BODY ART FES­TI­VAL WILL BE A FEAST FOR THE EYES BUT THE FAM­ILY-FRIENDLY EVENT OF­FERS MORE IF YOU SCRATCH BE­NEATH THE SUR­FACE

Life & Style Weekend - - COVER STORY - WORDS: AN­NIE CAUGHEY The Aus­tralian Body Art Fes­ti­val is at Apex Park, Cooroy, on April 6 and 7. The fes­ti­val will run from 8.30am to 4pm on both days with free en­try.

It’s al­most like walk­ing into your favourite fairy­tale or fic­tion book, as mys­ti­cal char­ac­ters and be­ings drip­ping with wacky colours and pat­terns wan­der the grounds around you. It al­most doesn’t feel real but that’s the beauty of the Aus­tralian Body Art Fes­ti­val – it’s un­like any­thing else. The an­nual fes­ti­val is hap­pen­ing again on the Sun­shine Coast on April 6 and 7, and thanks to some new Fed­eral Govern­ment fund­ing, it’s set to be the best one ever. Fill­ing this year’s line-up are more live mu­sic acts, roam­ing street per­form­ers, diverse work­shops and a mas­sive kids’ play zone. Then there is the live cul­tural en­ter­tain­ment from mem­bers of the Gubbi Gubbi tribe in­clud­ing work­shops on Abo­rig­i­nal-style body art, ochre paint­ing and sto­ry­telling. Fes­ti­val man­ager Danielle Taylor said the new fund­ing had al­lowed the event to grow its re­sources and move to a larger venue at Apex Park.

“As part of the Build­ing Bet­ter Re­gions Fund, they (the govern­ment) do­nated $34,500, so we’ve got a lot more to work with this year,” Danielle said. “In ad­di­tion to that, we also re­ceived $12,000 in fund­ing from the Queens­land Govern­ment. “And since win­ning the Sun­shine Coast Busi­ness Award for the best small busi­ness in the fes­ti­val and events cat­e­gory, we’ve had lots of new spon­sors come on board that we are do­ing fun new things with.” The growth is help­ing the fes­ti­val to shine an in­ter­na­tional spot­light on the Sun­shine Coast re­gion, at­tract­ing many artists, mod­els and com­peti­tors from all around the globe. One of those com­peti­tors ea­gerly await­ing the op­por­tu­nity to show­case her work is lo­cal artist Aye­sha Hen­der­son (pic­tured right and who de­signed the piece featured on the Week­end magazine cover). As a multi-award-win­ning body art and face paint­ing artist as well as a five-time in­struc­tor at the Aus­tralian Body Arts Con­ven­tion, all eyes will be on Aye­sha’s de­sign in­spired by the fes­ti­val’s 2019 theme: Other Worlds. While she won’t let us dis­close any se­crets of her de­sign, she prom­ises it’ll be “in­no­va­tive and in­ter­preted out­side of the box”, send­ing at­ten­dees on a vis­ual jour­ney while caus­ing them to re­flect on a very im­por­tant is­sue. “It’s all very top-se­cret stuff,” she says with a gig­gle. Aye­sha first dis­cov­ered body art by chance, when she de­cided to be the in-house face painter at her daugh­ter’s birth­day party 14 years ago. She be­came cap­ti­vated by the idea of a mov­ing can­vas and the as­so­ci­ated de­sign chal­lenges that came with it. Be­fore long, she was ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent forms of body art in­clud­ing preg­nant belly art, which is a ser­vice she now of­fers at her home stu­dio in Ku­luin. “I de­sign the art­work to suit them. I did a belly paint­ing re­cently and it’s got a lit­tle girl who’s play­ing a sax­o­phone be­cause the mother’s a mu­sic teacher, so it in­cor­po­rated dif­fer­ent as­pects of the cou­ple’s life,” Aye­sha said. But as the fes­ti­val looms, Aye­sha is now turn­ing her fo­cus on next week­end’s com­pe­ti­tion. While, she says, she’s pre­pared for the time-pres­sured event in the hope of a win, above all she’s proud to sim­ply take part in the event she be­lieves is so im­por­tant be­cause of the cul­ture it cre­ates here on the Coast. “It’s amaz­ing,” Aye­sha said. “It draws in so many peo­ple and you are live paint­ing in front of them, so it builds your con­fi­dence and builds your tech­nique. “Plus, I get to make friends with so many artists around Aus­tralia. We are like a lit­tle fam­ily. “That’s why I do it. Not so much to win or any­thing but for that com­mu­nity.”

ABOVE: Aye­sha Hen­der­son at her home stu­dio.

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