Heart Open: Women in the arts open up

She writes, reads, sings poetry. She smudges expressions in charcoal and ink. She leaps and twists in response to a song. She speaks in tongues of blues and folk.

Her heart, her art, is open.

On Tuesday night Newcastle witnessed it’s second instalment of the bi-monthly event, Heart Open. Perhaps more commonly known by its stylised name #HerArtOpen, four emerging female artists took to the stage to present and perform their individual creative practices. In the intervals between performances, a Q&A with the artist would take place to provide the audience with further insight into the women’s’ creative process and conceptual intentions within their work.

First to grace the Claredon Hotel garden stage was poet and spoken word-smith, Laura Kebby. Familiar to those who might have spotted her contributing some poetry in the open mic slot of the last Heart Open event, Laura’s words were as insisting as ever. Through her grabbing delivery, Laura places the character of a writer’s creativity on a pedestal, drawing familiar comparisons to lovers long-lost and present. Where the accompaniment of another can so often come and go, Laura revels in the omnipresence of her creativity; no matter how many times it might have her sleeplessly turning in the early hours of the morning.

Next, the stage was filled with the room-quietening bluesy croon of Deanna Rose. Surprisingly, one to have “never really been into country music”, the Tamworth-born singer, song-writer and guitarist pierced the muggy evening air with gorgeously heartbreaking song. Married in her honest, melodic wailings and percussive guitar twangs, Deanna sang words of universal feeling whereby the love of a past partner or close relative is likened to the roses they gift her, blooming and wilting over time.

The next featured creative was a multidisciplinary visual artist whose modest words in Q&A conversation fail to do her large-scale impressionist landscapes justice. Depicting common Newcastle beachscapes in a hauntingly new light, Jess Keller admits to preferring “a grungey, almost scary” vision of Newcastle’s iconic coastal views. Although the body of work displayed alongside the seated audience represented an artist with an extensive stylistic breadth and a command of almost any medium, Jess was more willing to spark a laugh with the audience than promote her art. With the playful heckles of her family calling questions from the crowd, Jess responded in laughter admitting “why yes, I was the winner of the 1992 local Video Ezy colour-in completion and yes, the original pieces are still available for purchase”.

The buzzing crowd was then seated and quietened for the final performance by contemporary dancer Jacinta Rose. Seemingly unaffected by her limited performing space, Jacinta’s small frame stretched and flicked rhythmically to the quiet atmospheric tune playing from across the room. The chorography performed by the young artist held the audience still and enraptured as her movements depicted a faultless yet organic spectacle. 

Co-hosted by journalist and slam-poet Alexandra Morris and University Research Associate and stand-up comedian Chloe Warren, the dynamic duo led the night’s proceedings with holla, humour and heart; open and aflutter. With the laughter and praise of those whom could be mistaken for long time high-school friends with all that attended on the evening, Alex and Chloe succeeded in curating another inclusive evening of art-fuelled performance and discussion.

Creating a welcoming space for performative arts-based expression, engagement and education, Heart Open pushes the typical open-mic night to new, necessary heights. Where disparities in female representation in the arts continues to be a reality, Heart Open sheds a bright, unyielding light on the burgeoning league of female talent evident across all realms of artistic practice.

If you missed out on this month’s Heart Open event, the next night is scheduled for mid-December. Until then, you can attend the monthly themed open-mic night Word Hurl Anti-Slam held on the first Wednesday of each month at Vinyl Café.

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