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Photo Essay: Special Effects at the Body Art Carnivale

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 Painting

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.

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

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.

Artist - Carleen Adorn, Model - Francesca

Artist - Carleen Adorn, Model - Francesca

Everyone was full of smiles. The models often couldn’t stop laughing!

Artist - Jessica Hunt, Model - Ellery Holland

Artist - Charmaine Orchard, Model - Ursula

Working on the perfect mermaid look.

The special effects begin to go on. You can already see the artists’ very different take on the same theme (‘Under the Sea’).

Artist - Lorraine Halse, Model - Donna Pottinger

Artist - Lorraine Halse, Model - Donna Pottinger

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)!

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

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.

A dead pirate captain by Robyn Janetski

A dead pirate captain by Robyn Janetski

I thought this shot was really haunting, especially since his other eye is hanging out of his head!

The Cyborg Mermaid by Charmaine Orchard

Artist - Charmaine Orchard, Model - Ursula

Artist - Charmaine Orchard, Model - Ursula

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?

Creature of the Sea

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!

The Photo Shoot

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.

Creature of the Sea

Creature of the Sea

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!

Artist - Lorraine Halse, Model - Donna Pottinger

Artist - Lorraine Halse, Model - Donna Pottinger

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.’

Artist - Carleen Adorn, Model - Francesca

The Mermaid

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

I really liked the lionfish. Tammy was so expressive and was always having a laugh, which made her really easy to photograph!

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Sandra Temple and Shelley L Chalmers, Model - Tammy Schwerin

Artist - Kat Viola Denyer, Model - Brad Shepherd

Artist - Kat Viola Denyer, Model - Brad Shepherd

No, I’m not sure what’s sticking out of his bum either. A pineapple perhaps?

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

Artist - Heather O'Flaherty, Model - Carolyn O'Neill

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!

Artist - Robyn Janetzki, Model - Isaac Mcgovern

Artist - Robyn Janetzki, Model - Isaac Mcgovern

I’ve never seen such a happy dead pirate.

Artist - Robyn Janetzki, Model - Isaac Mcgovern

Artist - Robyn Janetzki, Model - Isaac Mcgovern

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.

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

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.

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

Artist - Natalie Stanfield, Model - Taylor Wilton

The Finish

Car Bonnet Art

Car Bonnet Art

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?

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2 Responses to Photo Essay: Special Effects at the Body Art Carnivale

  1. Atul (Pixodentist) June 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm Reply

    Creativity at it`s Spicy`st Best, with your photography adding more Flavour to it. Thank you for inviting to view your new blog post and sharing it. Wishing you all the very best for your future assignments.

    • Kristin June 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm Reply

      Thanks Atul! It was very difficult to do the artists’ work justice — they made such amazing creations in such a short time!

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