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You may have seen already that I was an official photographer at the Australian Body Art Carnivale that was held in Eumundi last month. Over the course of two days, I saw many incredibly talented artists turn normal people into works of art. It was amazing to watch the transformation in just a few short hours, and no category exemplified this as much as the special effects competition. In 5.5 hours, models were turned into cyborg mermaids — complete with stretchers to move around because they couldn’t walk — and creepy creatures of the deep sea. Unlike in the other competitions, artists were allowed to use anything they could to complete the look, so there were fake eyes and fins everywhere!
The artist’s tent was split into two sections for the day — one for facepainting, the other for the special effects. As happened on Saturday with the brush & sponge and airbrush competitions, one side of the tent (the facepainting) was much easier to walk around than the other — partly because the facepainters got to sit down while the special effects artists were busy stretching out footlong fins to turn their models into giant lionfish. This made it a bit difficult to get in close for photos, but I managed to squeeze in occasionally and get some candid shots.
What a transformation from the first hour to the last! You couldn’t even tell who the model on the right (Carolyn O’Neill) was by the end of the day.
Everyone was full of smiles. The models often couldn’t stop laughing!
The special effects begin to go on. You can already see the artists’ very different take on the same theme (‘Under the Sea’).
Donna Pottinger patiently standing as still as possible while her artist (Lorraine Halse) paints some fine detail. Donna won best model for Sunday (and she deserved it after being painted for two days straight)!
Sandra Temple’s lionfish creation early in the day and again after lunchtime. It’s amazing what can be done in so short a time.
I thought this shot was really haunting, especially since his other eye is hanging out of his head!
This was the eventual winner of the category. The model, Ursula, was turned into a ‘cyborg mermaid’ by Charmaine Orchard, the People’s Choice winner in brush & sponge for 2011. The backstory was that she was a normal mermaid that was captured and experimented on — perhaps what would have happened to Ariel if Ursula had been a mad scientist instead of a fat old witch?
This was a really interesting creation, and I wish I could remember the artists’ names. And yes, those are coral eyebrows and Cheerios glued to her!
Many of the photographers that were there on the first day didn’t even bother with going to the photo shoot. I didn’t blame them because the shoot had been quite trying artistically; the lights were casting all sorts of shadows and there weren’t enough of the plain-coloured backgrounds so all of the photographers were clustered in front of those that were.
I decided to try it again since some of my best photos came from the previous shoot, and I wasn’t disappointed. Because there were a lot less people around in general, the room didn’t seem quite as packed and sweaty, and because the models came in two distinct groups — facepainting and special effects — we didn’t have to rush quite as much.
She had a very interesting look, although a few other photographers and I agreed that we wished we could turn her cat-eye contact around slightly so it was properly vertical!
This was one of my favourite shots from the day. It’s so creepy, and many people I showed it to said ‘get her away from me!’ I entered this one in the print photo category of the photography competition, with the title ‘The Scary Creature in Your Nightmares.’
I really liked the lionfish. Tammy was so expressive and was always having a laugh, which made her really easy to photograph!
No, I’m not sure what’s sticking out of his bum either. A pineapple perhaps?
This was by far the creepiest creation, but she was done oh so well. She made me think of the fish that tries to eat Nemo in the deep sea — the light at the end of her antenna even lit up in the same way!
I’ve never seen such a happy dead pirate.
These photos were interesting for the shadows. It shows how difficult the lighting setup was, since the lights were coming from below and in front of the models, so on all except the black background we got massive shadows looming over the models. The pirate shadow looked like ET though, which was entertaining.
I really liked this art — the pastels worked really well on the model (Taylor) and her personality really seemed to fit the art. I just wish I’d been able to get some shots on black because it would have added a lot more contrast.
The day ended with another catwalk and awards ceremony, but first was the presentation of the car bonnet art. While some artists had been painting bodies, others were trying to create more permanent pieces of art on car bonnets. I wish I’d gone around to see them at work, but I’m glad I made it in time to see them presented to the crowd. They were amazing! I especially liked the one above, which was a depiction of the deep sea scene from Finding Nemo.
Part of the car bonnet art competition is the auction, where people bid on their favourites to raise money for the following year’s Carnivale. Many of the bonnets fetched over $200, and one was still taking active bids even after it passed the $500 mark! Possibly the most memorable auctioneer description was for the bonnet above, which he described as being ‘perfect for your friends’ nursery wall. The kids will love it and go straight to sleep with no nightmares at all.’
And so we reached the end of the 2012 Australian Body Art Carnivale. It was an exhausting experience — I can’t imagine what the artists and models felt like — but a good one. They’ll be doing it all over again next May, and I really encourage you to go to the Markets and take it in for yourself.
What was your favourite part of the Carnivale? Which artwork did you like the best?