Jumpers and Jazz Festival

JUMPERS AND JAZZ FESTIVAL: As you rug up in your jumpers, beanies, mittens and scarves to hold off the winter cold, have you ever spared a thought for those leafless trees shivering through the frosts? No? They do in Warwick, Queensland. They like to keep their trees warm in the sunshine state - with art.
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As you rug up in your jumpers, beanies, mittens and scarves to hold off the winter cold, have you ever spared a thought for those leafless trees shivering through the frosts? No? They do in Warwick, Queensland. They like to keep their trees warm in the sunshine state – with art.

The sixth Jumpers and Jazz Festival, running this year from 15 – 25 July, is possibly one of the quirkiest festivals you’re likely to come across. Coordinated in a successful partnership of Warwick Art Gallery curator and director Karina Devine on the art side and Warwick Tourism and Events CEO Bev Marston on the events and music side the festival combines music and community events with creative and playful art displays, workshops and competitions that the whole community can participate in.

It started when the council in Warwick ‘renewed’ the landscape around the town’s central business district with a whole lot of tiny saplings. As it was quite cold, some kindly anthropomorphic person thought, won’t they all get cold? shouldn’t we wrap them up a bit? – and a festival was born.

Warwick actually does get pretty cold, averaging in July maximums of 17.4C and minimums of 3.3C, and one night this week was –4C. Situated about 130km south west of Brisbane, Warwick lies in the southern Darling Downs on the Condamine River. There are palm trees alongside the deciduous, a host of local wineries along the Granite Belt, farmers and arts markets and it’s home to a growing influx of tree-changers.

This year 150 of Warwick’s trees are to be wrapped in winter woollies, colourful knits, crocheted coats, felt and textiles, some are fleeced with paper, recyclables, rope and even clay to create fun and creative winter displays.

Prizes are offered for the best textile art, the best interpretation of the year’s theme (this year is ‘Psychedelic’) and the best ‘Frost the Park’ tree, as the trees in Leslie Park are ‘white only’. Some people like to decorate the same tree year after year, where possible as the ongoing council ‘renewing’ of the streetscapes – i.e. chopping trees down and planting new ones again, adds some logistical confusion.

All manner of trees around town are decorated: by individuals, local businesses schools, and community groups. ‘You don’t need to be a skillful artist,’ says Marston.

In addition to the trees there are a series of popular art and craft workshops where enthusiasts of any skill level can get involved in quilting, textile installations, embroidering, learn sculpting and coiling techniques and transforming everyday items into figurative and landscape imagery.

This year introduces the ‘Yarn Bomb Your Tree’ competition. Locals are encouraged to dress up trees in their own yards as imaginatively as possible. The idea came from the popularity of decorating local streets with Christmas lights and serves as a way to further develop the festival and get more people involved. It also increases the supply of trees to decorate and extends the festival to other local towns.

Not all events are happening in Warwick. On the Jazz side a wide variety of local bands and jazz groups have been assembled to play at venues around Warwick and the nearby towns of Killarney, Allora, and Stanthorpe as well as at local wineries and B&Bs and on the local steam train platform.

Jumpers and Jazz is a unique initiative to create a community as well as promotional event for the town and the region via an arts festival. Accommodation in Warwick is fully booked for the festival and it continues to grow each year, which has led to the festival being extended to 10 days and spreading it over two weekends. So, from a tourism standpoint, it’s working and increasingly spreading the love of winter woollies to other local towns. Last year there were an estimated 10,000 visitors, some as daytrippers, some on coach tours and others who are returning to the town annually for the festival.

On the last weekend of the festival there will be a Jazzy Jumper competition, where people who perhaps don’t feel creative enough to decorate a tree (or couldn’t get one) can join a parade of hideous, cute and creative jumpers and maybe win a prize. Then on the Sunday there is a Picnic in the Park with market, food and wine stalls.

The whole idea behind the festival says Marston was to embrace winter. ‘I know people scratch their heads and think that we’re a bit crazy but you know it’s a lot of fun rugging up in scarves and jumpers and getting out there; not hibernating, not being stuck inside. There’s so much to do during the festival we all just get out there and have a good time.’

The official launch of Jumpers and Jazz will be held at Warwick Art Gallery, 49 Albion Street, Warwick
Friday 16th July

The theme for the trees and for the launch party dress code is Psychedelic.
Special guest judge Rita Summer, will be presenting the Tree Jumper awards.
Entry $5
Warwick Tourism & Events 07 4661 9073 or Warwick Art Gallery 07 4661 0434
Email info@warwickevents.com

For further information visit http://jumpersandjazz.com/

Fiona Mackrell
About the Author
Fiona Mackrell is a Melbourne based freelancer. You can follow her at @McFifi or check out www.fionamackrell.com