Anticipation for the dressing day for Warwick’s trees to get their winter coats installed has reached fever pitch. This is a day that the whole community looks forward to when 110 of the leafless trees in the CBD are transformed with wonderful and wacky artworks for the 10 day Jumpers and Jazz in July festival.
This is no quick yarn bombing activity but rather a carefully measured and planned labour of love that involves hundreds of creative people and many months of organisation.
Warwick Art Gallery director Karina Devine and her team commenced the planning for the 2016 festival eight months ago when the optional tree jumper theme was decided.
“Our tree jumper artists like to know the theme early as they begin designing their tree jumpers a long time in advance,” said Karina, “We make sure we choose a theme that has several layers and can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. The theme this year is Bohemain and, although the artists keep their ideas mostly a secret, we know that we are going to have some truly spectacular tree jumpers in this year’s competition.”
The exhibition attracts entries from professional artists alongside groups and individuals who have a love of yarn arts and enjoy being part of this unique community event.
The Diggers Garden Group will participate for the third time this year decorating a tree located outside the Blue Bird Kitchen and Bar. The “tree jumper” sub-committee is coordinated by Joy Softley, Gemma Condon and Pamela Hart who started collaborating on ideas way back in December last year.
“We have regular gatherings to work on our entry which is inspired by gardens, gardening and the theme Bohemian,” says Pamela, “Our tree will feature colourful fruit made from beautiful wool donated to the group by a member from Toowoomba”.
“We love working on our tree and our members from Tenterfield, Warwick and Stanthorpe all join in to help – one of our members from Bolivia in NSW has knitted over sixty pieces of fruit.
One of the absolute highlights of this year’s tree jumper exhibition will be the collaborative artworks coordinated by free form knitting and crochet guru Prudence Mapstone. In February Prudence put a call out to her colleagues and fans all over the world to join in with her to make a Bohemian themed tree jumper using a unique technique called “scrumbling”. The response has been incredible and the little scrumbled pieces have been mailed to Prudence’s home in Brisbane from all over the world including France, Spain, Libya, Alaska, Croatia, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands.
Last year’s winner of the Excellence in Knitting and Crochet section, Jessica Thompson from Brisbane has participated almost every year. The award winning crochet artist is looking forward to coming back up to Warwick to install her “geometree” artwork on to the same tree she decorates every year. Jessica has a 15 minute ferry ride to work every day and uses that time to work on the small elements for her tree jumper.
“Every minute counts,” says Jessica,”My entry this year has lots of small elements that I have finally finished and I am now in the construction stages. This is the most challenging part as what looks awesome in my head doesn’t work in reality when you are creating something for a tree. There is a lot of transition involved from thought to reality when making a tree jumper.
All tree jumper artists are congratulated and celebrated at the official Festival Launch Party on Thursday 21 July in Warwick Town Hall. This event will include entertainment by the powerful, soulful sounds of Brisbane swing band Dezzie D and the Stingrays.
Warwick Art Gallery sponsors three $500 prizes for tree jumper excellence that will be presented by the 2016 official judge Kerryanne Farrer. A Culture Champion, Kerryanne, throughout her career in the creative industries spanning 30 years, has always been passionate about producing and facilitating contemporary arts and cultural experiences and enterprises.
Currently in the pilot seat, as Executive Director of Flying Arts Alliance, Kerryanne combines her dedication to access for Regional Queenslanders together with her working knowledge of the arts and culture. Previously as Regional Arts Development Officer for Artslink Queensland, she facilitated 15 communities across Queensland to re-invent their towns through arts place-making initiatives.
Kerryanne has produced festivals, shows and events, directed cabarets and carnivals, chaired organisations, sat on panels, run creative enterprises and facilitated educative experiences and courses for children, young people and adults from diverse backgrounds and regions.
The tree jumper exhibition commences on Thursday 21th of July. The artworks remain on the trees until 4pm on Sunday the 31th of July, the last day of the festival.
Tickets to the Launch Party are $25 and can be purchased online at www.warwicktickets.com or in person at Warwick Art Gallery.