Home is where the art is: La PasseggArta Exhibition

19 March 2012

Written by: Julia McDonald

One of the lesser-known suburbs of Melbourne is the Ascot Vale area. Home to many local businesses and quaint cafés, it was also the host of the first La PasseggArta local art exhibition. Displayed in the European ‘art in windows’ style, people could take a stroll down Union Road stopping to admire the work of residential artists in the windows of storefronts. The name itself ‘La Passeggarta’ means to ‘take a stroll’ in Italian, just as the exhibition inspires one to do.

The event was a great success for all members of the community. I was lucky enough to meet with founder, Vincenza Fazzalori, Melbourne artist, Trevor Neal and photographic artist and owner of Lisa Melina’s Brow Beauty Boutique, Lisa Irato.  All three provided different perspectives of the event but all agreed it had a positive effect on the community.

The creator – Vincenza Fazzalori

What inspired you to create the exhibition in the first place?

The exhibition was inspired by a need to connect with other artists in the vicinity of Moonee Valley, in particular Ascot Vale, where this event is being hosted. It’s not an entirely original concept; the concept of art in windows is widely used internationally and certainly locally with nearby suburbs exhibiting art in shop windows. It’s a great way of promoting local talent, building community, building capacity, supporting local industry, local businesses and revitalizing the streets.

How did you come across all of these local artists?

The artists were sourced by putting ads in the local newspaper, putting notices up in businesses in nearby suburbs as a call out to artists, and also electronically online on specific websites. Closer to 60 people responded which is pretty phenomenal, and for various reasons, some chose not to participate this time around. Many of the artists haven’t even exhibited before and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to participate in this.

Will you be doing this again, possibly next year?

Certainly. One would hope so. The response has been encouraging with many small business owners very keen to get on board next time, and other artists contacting me about how to be part of next years exhibition.

The artist – Trevor Neal

Why did you choose to participate in La PasseggArta?

That is a short question with a very long answer! I’ve always been interested in photography, but I had never done really anything with it. And the last couple of years I have been, for a number of reasons, looking for that opportunity to perhaps share my perspective through my photography with the community. I never had this courage, I would say, to take it out to the community and the world outside of my family.

So, when I saw this call to artists I thought this might be the opportunity for me to take that first step, in a reasonably safe way, where, rather than it being me on my own to be able to take part in a collective exhibition, or a group of artists. It has less of a formality than a traditional exhibition, so that was part of it.

Is your work a combination of photography and digital editing?

Yes, so really, I call myself a photographic artist. It is a combination of looking in a unique way from my perspective to tell my story and then using the processes of post production to enhance the photography and give it more of an artistic presence than a pictorial presence and a traditional photographing piece.

Did the inspiration for your collection come from overseas or is that related to your time here?

There, is a whole other story. It’s really part of my transition and transformation for me – I’ve just turned 50. So this is midlife in the great unknown for me. It’s what’s next in life, what does life look like? So really I’m sharing my own journey and my own time with other people who go through periods of life where there’s more questions than they have answers. The image is called Life of Iron, and it’s like a tribute if you look at it.

For me it is three phases, the early part of life, the middle, and later part of life, where you can see the edge is. And there are little nails or nail holes that represent the person within the journey. And so the way that there’s light shed on those areas as well as you can see that the mid panel is the brightest of all; which is a representation of where I am, and where most of us experience our greatest joys, you know? Greatest experiences. The early part is kind of this darkest part of not knowing what life is going to be about, and the last part is life winding down and all the sadness and difficulty of life.

And how has the feedback been from the community?

Well, I can only say from the friends and family that I have brought into the community to show them. So they’ve been, firstly, really impressed with the whole idea. They’ve enjoyed the strolling and looking and the artworks and the quality of the artworks. I think conceptually from a visitor’s point of view it’s outstanding. For me, for the artwork, the response has been very positive for what this is and what it represents. It’s been very heartening for me, as I said in the beginning, stepping out for the first time to share a view that has been all kept inside. For people then to see that and get a sense and a feel for my perspective.

Venue Owner – Lisa Irato

Why did you choose for your venue to participate in the exhibition?

For a lot of reasons, I personally have an appreciation of art. I’ve always enjoyed the art side of things through school and through my job I like to have an artistic outlet through doing people’s make up and artistic displays. I’m very drawn to certain colours, I’ve always had an appreciation and been a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to colours and things like that. So I was really happy to participate in something artistic.

I think it’s a win-win situation for everybody and it’s a nice way to bring the community together. It’s helpful for me in that it’s drawing attention to my business and I like to support local artists such as Trevor as well. And it’s something to excite customers. I like to build a relationship with my customers, so I like to tell them, ‘there’s a new thing coming out this week and keep an eye out for it’. So it gives them something to look forward to.

I think there always needs to be something new and interesting to draw people in. It can sometimes become a bit stale if nothing changes and it’s good to create a bit of theatre and drama. Trevor’s piece in particular fit in with what I had in mind. Coming into autumn I wanted to have a something warm and rustic in the window. And also, funnily enough, the latest Napolean colours (her makeup line) were metallic, rustic colours, which tied in perfectly so I felt like it was meant to be.

And so you’ve also found a positive response from the community and your regulars?

Definitely! So I was telling all the regulars what was up and coming and to look out for it. And just to create a bit of excitement and interest in the street so they then weren’t just looking at my shop but taking an interest in the rest of the street as well and taking La PasseggArta. I would hand out the brochures when they leave and tell them to take a walk on their way home.

Would you consider participating in it again next year?

Of course! Definitely.

La PasseggArta has proved to be a successful event in the Ascot Vale area and is certainly worth the trip (although the festival has now ended). I’m looking forward to next year already!

Julia McDonald is completing her Masters of Global Communications at La Trobe University. Follow her on Twitter @Jules_mcdonald.