Changing lives one art party at a time


Allow me to set the scenario. One year ago Jessie Ray sat with a few friends chatting and co-conceived the idea of having an art party and establishing a diverse community of artists, poets, writers, singer/songwriters and muso’s to support one another in their creative aspirations. Jessie has always thought ‘There’s gotta be more than this. The grey city, the 9 to 5, the pubs, the footy.’ She walks away and decides that she’s going to get this shit happening.

Fast forward a year and Jessie is overwhelmed and astounded at how much Art Party has achieved while celebrating with crew and community at the first birthday in Sydney.

Singer songwriter Cam Raeburn

Singer songwriter Cam Raeburn – photo by Natasha Mulhall

Bron Watkins playing violin

Bron Watkins – photo by Natasha Mulhall

Body percussion, AP First Birthday - led by Rendra Freestone (Rhythm Hunters)

Body percussion, AP First Birthday – led by Rendra Freestone (Rhythm Hunters) Photo by Natasha Mulhall

In the last year I have witnessed the love affairs, the bands, the households, the spin off gigs and the album launches that have manifested themselves from this community. I never expected people to get off their arses but having that community backing helps you to do it.

But it wasn’t that easy. Jessie, as curator and organiser, has busted her lady balls, faced near exhaustion, and despite thoughts of quitting keeps running at it. Why?

According to her close group of mates Art Party has been life changing in a meaningful way. People walk away feeling better about themselves and more authentic. Jessie agrees that it has felt like a massive social experiment and is overjoyed that people leave with real connections. She admits that to see other people create and collaborate is a sustainable satisfaction, especially when it has nothing to do with her but rather because they develop something and learn from this that they can achieve themselves. She ain’t no babysitter!

Anthony Demasi entertaining a crowded hall

Anthony Demasi – photo by Natasha Mulhall

She ain’t no martyr either! Sure Jessie has been juggling Art Party while working full-time, but she’s not scared to ask for support. Fortunately a small crew of techy friends have jumped on board for photography, AV, etc. Which is timely given that AP has expanded from its humble beginning in Sydney to setting up pop up parties in Melbourne, Brisbane, Byron, Canberra and Gosford. AP will be travelling to Wollongong and Newcastle soon and has already happened twice in St Petersburg, Russia. Jessie is also looking at Israel, India, Mexico and Germany as future destinations. Seems to me that world domination is more a strategy than a fantasy.

Geoffrey Goodes - AP's best groupie

Geoffrey Goodes – AP’s best groupie. Photo by Natasha Mulhall

Yet it’s still a gamble cos when they hit a new town attendance is a leering challenge. Luckily Jessie is a thinker, a planner and a positive schemer. She tries to book free venues for first visits, or at least very cheap ones, that are connected to community. This in turn attracts the local creative’s to get involved in AP and join its growing networks.

It takes a lot more than serious budget constraints and consequential limited marketing funds to stop these art makers. The AP crew are not frightened of dumpster diving or couch surfing while on the road, or busking along the way to fuel themselves and vehicle.

Sasha Cuha artist in action

Sasha Cuha in action at AP – photo by Natasha Mulhall

The love that flows through this artistic community is abundant and hugging is commonplace. Everyone is welcoming and it is made known that Art Party is a safe space. But what surprised me most while interviewing Jessie was the life-saving impact Art Party has had on some of the younger members of the group. She has had many marginalised younger guys and girls share suicidal feelings. It’s true that despite working her arse off and having very little sleep in the past year, Jessie’s passion and knowledge that AP has stopped them jumping off a bridge is comforting. The youth, as with all attendees, are encouraged to open up, stand in their personal truth, forgive/forget and move on. AP is a magic place, a healing space and every party is full of love.

AP's very own Jessie Ray - photo by Natasha Mulhall

AP’s very own Jessie Ray – photo by Natasha Mulhall

It’s evident from Art Party that creativity and community when combined have powerful healing properties.

Next Art Party is on Wed 30 Oct 7pm $15 / BYO / Venue – AC, Marrickville



  1. Wow! I got goosies when I read this. Amazing woman!
    Beautifully written article….:)

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    • Cheers Maz! The interview certainly took an unexpected journey and reminded me of the therapeutic benefits of creative expression :) xx

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