Local Artist Julie Fearns-Pheasant has had her contribution to the arts and arts practise formally recognised, awarded the 2021 Festival Artist title by the Armadale Arts Festival Artist Panel.
The City’s annual Arts Festival will kick off from Friday 30 April through to Friday 16 May, where Fearns-Pheasant will take the reins as an official ambassador.
Originally arriving in Armadale as a migrant with her family as a child, she returned to the City in 1999 to settle in the area with her own family.
Over the subsequent years, Julie has assisted the City of Armadale to develop some of its most cherished visual arts initiatives including the Minnawarra Art Awards and Outside the Frame, and has been an active participant of the Armadale Hills Open Studio Arts Trail for over four years.
“My experience with the art world began at a very early age and I cannot honestly remember a time without it. As a child it was my first joy, as a teen, my comfort, and as an adult it is my essence. I feel incomplete and half a person when I cannot create,” Fearns-Pheasant said.
“The fact that my contribution has been recognised as worthwhile, particularly in a professional capacity as an artist and teacher, makes it (title of Festival Artist) doubly superb. I feel extremely honoured.”
With a Masters Degree in Cross-Disciplinary Arts at UNSW Art & Design, Fearns-Pheasant was also the first Australian artist to win dual gold medals at the International Abilympics. With over ten solo exhibitions and numerous joint shows under her belt, she is well-versed in illustration, painting, and many mixed media projects.
“I have studied academically in arts subjects and then worked in educational sectors over the years. I now work with graduate teachers; teaching authentic art curriculum and all its methods, pedagogies and cultural connections.
“I have always worked figuratively, looking at human narratives within different internal struggles. Societal issues weave around whatever I create, be it body image, bullying, mental health or even global concerns such as the pandemic.”
At this year’s Armadale Arts Festival, Fearns-Pheasant will present a series of community workshops. Young people will be invited to illustrate and paint a ceramic tile representing ‘My story, Your Story’. The artworks will then be placed at the City’s Champion Centre Community Garden, either immersed into pathways or embedded into outdoor benches and tables. The theme ‘My Story, Your Story’ will be the encompassing theme, and will be guided by the City and Centre’s vision for the site. The installation of the tiles will commence after the Festival, in time for NAIDOC week in July.
“I have been given the opportunity to not only exhibit myself but to develop a body of work that involves young people of the community,” Fearns-Pheasant said.
“I was asked to design a project that not only highlighted the worth of art and creativity for our City, but to give our youth a visual way to illustrate about themselves.
“It feels great that I get to work with three of my passions all in one; art, education and community.”
Fearns-Pheasant’s vision for the creative arts in Armadale is clear.
“We have so many creative people in the arts, with so many positive, active happenings and opportunities happening in our region, in our city.
“I hope one day that the arts is recognised as one of Armadale’s essential identities. As an art educator of the young, I would love the Arts in Armadale to be part of the regular curriculum, where local schools would reach out and work with all the available talent here.
“It’s overflowing and waiting to be uncovered.”
As a long-time resident, Fearns-Pheasant is quietly committed to showing others in Armadale the overall value of the arts.
“I have many other identities; wife, mother, teacher, writer, survivor (of breast cancer) and a person with a long term physical disability. Over the years, each label has been bandied around as being more important, more defining as another. But to me, being an artist is my core.
“Our established creative community is supportive, fabulously innovative and so willing to share its vision with people who need a direction.”
For more information on the Armadale Arts Festival and for the full event program, visit www.armadaleartsfestival.com.au.