Interview With Amac, aka Andrew McDonald, Artist and Creator.

Boxwar: Photo by Campbell-Manderson

Falls Festival | Dec 31 – Jan 2

Ever had a box war? Well this year at Falls Festival you can. Basically all you have to do is go to La Henge, the home ground for punk performance and art installation. Turn up each day for the daily workshops to create an epic cardboard battle with Melbourne-based collective Boxcars – who promise to bring fun, hilarity and a shitload of recycled cardboard to Falls. The box war at Falls will feature cardboard cavemen, sabretooth tigers and even a giant woolly mammoth.

And that’s not all folks. No, there’s some really innovative and interactive programming thanks to the creative genius of Amac, aka Andrew McDonald, artist and creator. So before you get to Falls and immerse yourself in La Henge maybe you should get to know a little about Amac.

‘I am a hybrid,’ he says. ‘I have created a hybrid genre for myself: I am a visual artist, but self-taught as a curator.

‘I started by accident in Melbourne in the early 90s. I was in the Flinders Lane area at a time when the area was full of artist studios and empty shops – no-one was doing pop-ups back then. I took over most of a laneway, Centre Place, and had different artists in the shops. It was cool, and I thought that it will be gentrified, how can I create a place that survives gentrification? City Lights was an outdoor lightbox project – an outdoor public art gallery. I have curated different imagery by artists into those lightboxes for over 14 years now.’

Amac later went on to open a bar and then an indoor gallery in Hosier Street called Until Never. Both these streets themselves became outdoor galleries of sorts, covered in graffiti.

‘I became the unofficial greenskeeper of both these streets. People would visit town and street artists travelling the world would approach me to find a spot where they could paint.’

By 2004 Amac started his work with festivals with a street artist project with The Big Day Out. Much of his work in curation is around impermanence and participating with festivals to create impacts with art as well as music.

For Amac festivals aren’t about being a spectator; they are about being a participant. Hence his innovative approach to La Henge.

‘I really like to create the opportunity for surprise and delight and for people to feel like they are part of something. That feeling of serendipity when people engage in something and go, Oh, I found that! I try and create that kind of opportunity and this year we have some really cool people – like Prophets who do a Da Da-esque roaming performance. They are doing mask-making as well. And there will be roving performances by a group called Bring a Plate. They will teach people dance moves so that later they can be in a flashmob. We are really ramping up the vibe this year.

‘Falls Festival promotor Brandon Saul approached me with every curator’s dream, an open canvas, and a brief with no rules. Brandon has a vision to bring more diverse arts and experience to the festival.

Within that vision, Brandon offered me carte blanche to curate and program a cultural precinct for Falls Byron Bay, with an entirely new approach.

‘I approached the project with a simple idea that adults are really just big kids and that, given the opportunity, we all love to play. I have been drawn to artists who specialise in intimate, delightful, playful, funny and surprising projects that span all fields of art from rock to dance to theatre, comedy and visual arts and craft. The focus is on experiences that allow the audience to participate, get their hands dirty and learn new skills or just get creative in a deceptively fun way. Brandon and I are both drawn to the idea of consciousness expansion through creativity.’

The site will feature an almost-to-scale Stone Henge, an actual box war of around 100 people on the final day, hot box rock’n’roll yoga at the cardboard henge, daily performances by Howl & Moan Records emerging artists, and a comedy program that includes workshops that feature a final performance by Falls folk.

Don’t just go to a festival this year, be part of the festival. Tickets to Falls Music & Arts Festival Byron on sale now at Dec 31 – Jan 2

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