Home » Destinations » Australia » Photo Essay: The Australian Body Art Carnivale

Photo Essay: The Australian Body Art Carnivale

Please note that this post does contain photos of topless girls, so it may not be ideal to browse through during work time. I’d like to think they’re tasteful photos though.

Last weekend, artists from around Australia descended on Eumundi to take part in the annual Australian Body Art Carnivale. I’ve never seen an event quite like this one, where two full days are dedicated to using the human body as a canvas. It’s amazing to see firsthand how quickly a talented artist (of which there were many!) can transform a model into something otherworldly and beautiful (or in some cases in the special effects category, outrageously ugly)!

Kelli MacAlpine hard at work.

Kelli MacAlpine, the winner of the airbrush competition, hard at work.

Last year, I found out about this event on the day it was being held, courtesy of a search on the now-defunct OurBrisbane.com to find a place where I could take good portraits for my black & white darkroom class. I was devastated that I hadn’t found out about it early enough to register as an official photographer so this year I made sure to register early!

An artist hard at work.

An artist hard at work.

Because I had registered, it meant that I was allowed inside the painting tents — right in the thick of it, doing my best not to trip over any of the in-the-zone artists or still-as-a-stone models — and I was let into the official photography sessions. It made a big difference over last year, because not only did I not have to fight for elbow room and hope that a model looked in my direction, but I also got to interact with the models and artists themselves. I could tell the artists how much I loved their work and ask about how they did it; I could commiserate about the pains of standing up with the models. Plus, I had plenty of other photographers to chat with, especially when we were all taking a breather from the action in lawn chairs in the corner!

Orly Snir's artwork was some of my favourite, and her model was great.

Orly Snir's artwork was some of my favourite, and her model was great.

There were many competitions over the course of the weekend, including brush & sponge, airbrush, face painting, and special effects. Each category was notably different and very interesting for the different techniques used; all produced some absolutely stunning artwork that I felt privileged to be able to photograph. This photo essay focuses on day one of the carnivale, which was the brush & sponge and airbrush competitions. I have too many photos to include the second day as well! So without further ado…

The Painting

Painting started at 9am; the artists had 5 1/2 hours from then to finish their masterpiece for the judges panel. The photographers weren’t allowed in the tent until 9.30am, which was fair enough since there wasn’t a lot of paint to photograph before that! It was really interesting to be there for the entire process because we got to watch the models transform before our eyes.

Artist - Sandra Temple

Artist - Shelly Chalmers, Model - Sarah Morice

Painted legs at the Body Art Carnivale.

Sandra Temple and Shelly Chalmers hard at work in the first few hours of the competition.

Artist - Samm Starrs, Model - Julia Zodins

Artist - Samm Starrs, Model - Julia Zodins

Model - Jacintha Luermans

Artist - Melliimoo Hughes, Model - Donna Pottinger

Model - Doris Li

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Model - Jacintha Luermans

Model - Jacintha Luermans

I thought this artwork was awesome. The hand became more and more detailed as the day went on.

Sandra Temple's amazing sea otters.

Sandra Temple's amazing sea otters.

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

was definitely one of my favourite artists for the day — and obviously she was a lot of other peoples’ too because she won the People’s Choice Award for brush & sponge!

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Kelli MacAlpine won the airbrush competition last year with some amazing starry night body art, and she took it out again this year (along with the People’s Choice Award) with her work on Alanah Gleeson. You could tell she was going to win by the number of cameras crowded around her throughout the day! To read more about her win, check out the Toowoomba Chronicle.

Artist - Sandra Temple

Under the Sea Legs

Artist - Shelly Chalmers, Model - Sarah Morice

Artist - Shelly Chalmers, Model - Sarah Morice

The Photo Shoot

The official photo sessions were not quite what I expected setup-wise. A herd of photographers were following around a slightly smaller herd of models that needed to move between all the different backdrops. I can imagine that it was incredibly difficult to organise, but there were definitely a few things that could have been fixed — namely, the lights. The industrial lights that were used were very hot, which left all the models melting (many had to be touched up before judging!), and were mostly below the models, which isn’t ideal and gave us some really bad shadows to work with. So, I didn’t get quite the number of well-exposed shots that I was hoping for, but I still thought it was worth it because some of my best photos came from those sessions.

Orly Snir's entry in brush & sponge.

We had some very interesting lighting conditions to deal with during the photo shoot.

Artist - Jessica Hunt, Model - Kate Whatman

Artist - Jessica Hunt, Model - Kate Whatman

Artist - Jessica Hunt, Model - Kate Whatman

Artist - Jessica Hunt, Model - Kate Whatman

Artist - Nina of Nina and Brady, Model - Noles Onekawa

Artist - Nina of Nina and Brady, Model - Noles Onekawa

This was the winning body art in the brush & sponge category — I didn’t get any good pictures of his back, but it was quite impressive as well. Plus, he was one of the few guys there to photograph.

Artist - Kat Viola Denyer, Model - Alicia Jane Steele

Artist - Tina Louise, Model - Eva

Model - Jacintha Luermans

The first model above was really interesting. She was a jellyfish and spent her entire time ‘thunderbirding’ around with her arms hanging in front of her. Jacintha, the last model, always had a smile on her face!

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Artist - Kelli MacAlpine, Model - Alanah Gleeson

Model - Doris Li

During the photo shoot.

Doris Li, on the above left, won the ‘best model’ award for the day. She was always posing for us, even when she was trying to be still to be painted.

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

Artist - Orly Snir

This photo is my favourite from the entire two days. This photo and the few others I got were a complete accident — she was just standing and waiting for the model in front of her to move on to the next backdrop when a few of us realised that she had a really interesting light falling on her. It made the photos a lot moodier even though it didn’t highlight the body art quite as well.

The Catwalk

After the judging and photography session, all of the models in both categories strutted their stuff in front of a packed house before the winners were announced.

On the catwalk.

Artist - Samm Starrs, Model - Julia Zodins

Artist - Ayesha Henderson, Model - Ellie

Artist - Ayesha Henderson, Model - Ellie

Artist - Rene McGovern, Model - Isaac McGovern

Model - Doris Li

On the catwalk.

On the catwalk.

It was great to see them all having fun up there, even though they were surely exhausted after having stood — often completely still — since 9am. Hats off to all the models for their hard work (and for being willing to do it in the first place), and even more hats off to the amazing artists that managed to make such masterpieces in such a short period of time!

Which of the artworks is your favourite? And have you ever seen an event like this?

Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe for exclusive content!

Sign up for my free monthly newsletter to get my latest news, photos, and travel tips—with exclusive content not found on this blog—straight to your inbox! No spam, I promise.

6 Responses to Photo Essay: The Australian Body Art Carnivale

  1. Heather May 21, 2012 at 12:29 am Reply

    This is pretty cool and I’ve never seen anything like it! Thanks for sharing about the carnivale!

    • Kristin May 31, 2012 at 9:40 pm Reply

      And thanks for checking out my photos! It really is a very cool event — so different from anything I’ve ever been to, really. It takes so much talent to be able to create such amazing artworks in such a short period of time — and so much patience on the models’ behalf too!

  2. Alberto Webbink January 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm Reply

    Nice picture`s
    Some slips are not painted why not?
    It gave a complete foto than You can see de slip.

    Greeting from Holland,

    alberto

    • Kristin January 17, 2013 at 7:11 pm Reply

      Hi Alberto — thanks for your comment. Sorry, I don’t really understand what you mean? The photos were taken throughout the day, so the first photos show the models a lot less painted than they were when the artists finished. Also, none of the models actually wore slips. Some wore thin bras and all of them wore underwear, but slips would have caused problems with the body paint.

  3. crystal March 8, 2014 at 1:18 pm Reply

    To whom this my concern
    Hi my name is Crystal Neuamnn and I’m currently studying my diploma in photo imaging at Catc design school in Brisbane. One of my assignments is getting some feedback on my work in my chosen field of specialisation and I would like to know if you would take some time to answer 10 questions for me.

    • Kristin April 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm Reply

      Hi Crystal, apologies for not replying to you much sooner. I’m sure your assignment has been turned in by now but please let me know if I can help you (although I am just a photographer rather than a body artist/designer). Cheers.

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks for Photo Essay: The Australian Body Art Carnivale

  1. Photo Essay: Special Effects at the Body Art Carnivale | A Pair of Boots and a Backpack

  2. Photo Essay: An Evening in Captain Burke Park | A Pair of Boots and a Backpack

  3. 2014: Coachella to Queenstown and Everything in Between | A Pair of Boots and a Backpack

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect With Me