Don't want to shell out $99 for a Festival Pass at Mona Foma? There's plenty to do without paying a dime. The main weekend is from January 17 - 19 at Queen Victoria Museum, Inveresk But outside of that, there is a full program of music and arts wriggling in to unexpected spaces throughout the city, and much of it is free. Put your wallet away for all of the following events.
Every morning of the festival week brings the opportunity to greet the day with some chilled-out music at the Cataract Gorge.
Morning Meditation is held from 10am in the Fairy Dell (on the north side of the river, a short stroll from the car park), with a different musician each morning from Sunday, January 12, to Sunday, January 19.
Sunday, January 12: Morning meditation with Brian Ritchie. Mona Foma festival director and Violent Femmes bassist Brian Ritchie plays shakuhachi - a Japanese bamboo flute.
Monday, January 13: Morning meditation with Anne Norman. Anne Norman is a shakuhachi - Japanese bamboo flute - teacher based in Melbourne, who has played in Australia, Japan, America and Europe and is completing a PhD on the instrument at Monash University.
Tuesday, January 14: Morning meditation with Evan Carydakis. Launceston jazz musician Evan Carydakis, a post-move Mona Foma favourite,will play a solo sax performance inspired by jazz trailblazer Albert Ayler.
Wednesday, January 15: Morning meditation with Karlin Love. Karlin Love is a Tasmanian-based musician who makes and performs with instruments made out of leather.
Thursday, January 16: Morning meditation with Myles Mumford and Julius Schwing. Myles and Julius improv-converse with guitar and electronics to create a mid-morning mirage of shimmering, sun-baked sounds inspired by the climate crisis.
Friday, January 17: Morning meditation with James Rushford. James Rushford creates original compositions on the portative organ, a smaller version of a pipe-style organ you see in churches.
Saturday, January 18: Morning meditation with o3. o3 are a group of improvisers from Australia, Spain, Norway, Italy and Spain. Euro-improv: lush, hypnotic, and influenced by contemporary classical and experimental music stylings.
Sunday, January 19: Morning meditation with Akio Suzuki and Hiromi Miyakita. Akio Suzuki is known for capturing organic sounds - for example, throwing an object down a hallway and capturing the echoes. Miyakita is an improvisational dancer who explores the idea of 'dance as stillness'. Here they perform together.
Two of the main art installations at Mona Foma 2020 aren't free, but they're cheap - the Dark Ride takeover at Penny Royal and the series of coloured architectural domes at Royal Park each cost $13 for an adult ticket. But if even that is stretching the budget, the following cost absolutely zero.
The Centre at Elphin Sports Centre: The Mona curators that took over the Workers Club in 2019 are doing the same to the Elphin Sports Centre in 2020. There will be visual art, video, and photography installations, based around the theme of the body and sports.
Running until from 11am to 8pm on the festival weekend Friday, January 17, to Sunday, January 19; 6pm to 8pm on Tuesday, January 14; and 4pm to 8pm on Wednesday and Thursday.
Body Future at Design Tasmania: This exhibition looks at the almost-invisible traces humans leave behind everywhere they go. Alice Potts creates crystals out of the salt in sweat, and has created salt-crystal artworks from athletes' sweat, including a pair of crystal-encrusted ballet pointe shoes. Tarryn Handcock works with dust and dander, and has collected dust from 200 people with accompanying works created in response to the idea of what our physical touch leaves behind.
Opening at 5pm on Wednesday, January 15, and then running from 9.30am to 5.30pm on Thursday and Friday, and 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
IMAGE_OBJECT at Poimena Gallery, Launceston Church Grammar School, Mowbray: Nearly fifty artists, boundary-pushing abstract art, and a whole lot of good stuff on the walls.
Opening Thursday, January 16 at 5.30pm and then running 10am to 3pm.
Calculating Infinity at Queen Victoria Art Gallery, Royal Park: How many ways can you interpret an art collection spanning centuries? Award-winning artist Josh Foley - who has won the Glover Prize, among other achievements - has always been fascinated by QVMAG. He's taken over a gallery and is spectacularly translating classic works by Wolfhagen, Glover and Gould onto the blank walls. It's open 10am to 4pm daily with a special performance from Foley's alter-ego Xydep Xydahlia at 6.45pm on Monday, January 13, and from 11am on Sunday, January 20.
The Kookaburra Self-Relocation Project at random times around Launceston: Did you know that the laughing kookaburra was introduced to Tassie when Launceston was establishing a colonial zoo? The council exchanged the bird from mainland zoos for thylacine puppies. Part protest, part laughing circle, Fernando and his group of performers will present a series of absurd interventions into public city spaces inspired by the kookaburra.
For the first time ever, the headline performance for Mona Foma isn't a touring artist but something commissioned by the festival itself. It's the performance festival director Brian Ritchie is most looking forward to and has put the most work into: the musical play King Ubu.
King Ubu an adaption of the 19th-century French political satire Ubu Roi set in modern day Tasmania, put on by a mix of larger-than-human-sized puppets and regular actors. It will include a cast and crew of over 100, original costumes, and a live brass band, taking place on a purpose-built stage in the Cataract Gorge.
It's on from 7pm on Wednesday, January 15, Thursday, January 16, and Friday, January 17, near the swimming pool at the Gorge.
At 12pm on Saturday, January 18, will be a highlight for traditional music fans.Czech musician Pavel Kahout is a master of the organ - regarded as one of the great new interpreters of the organ from the concert stages of Europe. He will play in the City Baptist Church.
The Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights of the festival weekend will close each night with ambient or experimental electronica in Albert Hall.
Friday, January 17 at 10pm: Stockhausen tribute concert. Karlheinz Stockhausen is one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music. Fifty years ago the German composer performed in the Albert Hall in Launceston: this show is a tribute to that concert, with music by Myles Mumford, Aviva Endean, Ian Parsons, Julius Schwing, Karlin Love and Ron Nagorcka.
Saturday, January 18 from 9pm to 11.30pm: James Rushford at Albert Hall. A mashup of vintage synth and whale song, inspired by the story of Greenpeace expeditions using the Serge modular synthesiser to communicate with humpback whales.
Saturday, January 18 from 12am to 12.30am (technically Sunday morning): Ora Clementi at Albert Hall. Field recordings, electronics, microphones, wind and keyboard instruments, percussion and voice. Ora Clementi is composer-performer James Rushford and sound artist Crys Cole.
Sunday, January 19 from 10.30pm to 11.15pm: Oren Ambarchi and Crys Cole. A hazy, electro-acoustic dream of organ, guitars, electronics, muttered vocals, and love letters.