Tag Archives: SALA

Visibility and Invisibility 2022 #32

SALA is here and that means I am out and about at exhibitions being drenched in the creativity of artists around me. I have been fortunate to be involved in a few of the openings, invited to speak and have an opportunity to reflect and introduce the art being shared.

The diversity of images and media chosen by various artists calls us voyeurs to come closer. I am not a visual artist or sculpture, but I can sometimes see things other people can’t in a situation or detect something emerging on the horizon. Artists have the ability to make visible what perhaps others of us can’t see. Their eye, their choice of colours, how they frame their subject, what media they use, are all portals of possibilities to enable us gazing on their work to get a glimpse into how they are seeing the world.

I opened an exhibition at the Willunga Uniting Church Bethany Hall called Breathe. I talked about the relationship between inspiration and expiration – breathing in and breathing out. Doing this simple exercise of breathing together has been seriously compromised in these pandemic times, and so I think it is more important than ever to find ways in which we can communally get an opportunity to share the air without causing us harm and the humble act of an exhibition opening in a church hall, is one such way. Masked up and suitably separated by distance, the assembled gathered to celebrate the coming out of studios where work was created, now being shared and made visible for all to see.

The artists I’ve seen over these first two weeks of SALA are incredibly diverse. I have seen the beauty of crayon and paint of a 4 year old Estelle at a school-based SALA event, the interlocking pieces of old car parts and industrial rusted components transformed into sea creatures, oil paints layered to recreate a memory of a lost love, weaving patterns as old as the Dreamtime being used for baskets, mixed media collages calling forth the seasons, glass mosaics, endangered lizard potrait in charcoal, bejewelled earrings telling a tale of surf and sand, mandalas in ink drawn by the steadiest of hands, abstracted landscapes in every shade of green, deep time reflected in ancient red gum hosting seed pods, sunflowers offering up a blessing to a blue sky in honour of Ukraine.

Just as the artist puts their work in the world, an expiration if you like, or what has inspired them, so we the viewer get to inhale their work and then exhale it through our interpretation. We don’t survive if we only breathe out or only breathe in! We can’t live on oxygen or carbon dioxide, it is the mix and balance of these gases that enables us all to survive and we need both.

I know a bit about what it is like to have one more than the other and it is very unpleasant. Regular readers over the years will know my husband died of a disease where the lungs capacity to transfer oxygen into the blood stream and deliver enough oxygen to the rest of the body failed, and it took almost a decade for that failure to end in death. It is not too dissimiliar to what is happening to us as a planet. If we don’t arrest this situation we too will literally won’t be able to breathe.

Artists and their creations are critical in helping us see what might be invisible. Get along to any SALA event if you can and open up to seeing something new, or being moved by a memory, or even repelled by an image that offends your sensibilities. What ever your reaction it is an echo of the relationship between breathing in and breathing out, and we need both.

Opening SALA exhibition at Tinjella, Lynn Chamberlain’s studio, Willunga, with Marisa Bell, Candidate for Southern Vales Ward, City of Onkaparinga.

Meeting the Moment 2021 #32

We are having a wet winter, in this place which is the driest state on the driest continent. There are early signs of spring and a blossoming almond tree in the front garden of a house down the street was home to a very noisy mob of yellow tail black cockatoos during in the week. Snails and caterpillars are feasting on some of the brassica in the winter harvest square, and I am so pleased to have creatures and bugs munching and sharing the produce with me. I picked the cauliflower yesterday and made cauliflower soup for my dinner. It is so satisfying to eat the homegrown vegetables and even more enjoyable to share with others. I have set up some new garden beds, had more soil delivered and began a mini nursery to get seedlings established early for spring planting. Living more seasonally is beginning to take shape.

We are also in the season of the SALA Festival – SA living artists – and there are plenty who are well and truly alive with their insights and interpretations of our landscape, the faces and shapes and scenes. Through the eyes and talents of the artist we all get a little more expansive in what we can see and feel and perhaps even be transformed or transfixed by an image to take us to a new idea, new emotion or tap into an old memory. I was caught between happy and sad memories in a gallery this week, of places much longed for and missed, places which had been the source of great joy and now hold dark thoughts attached to new knowledge. Art is evocative.

I love the whimsy that a Michael Leunig cartoon holds as it rips into your heart strings and the solid majesty of ancient gums in a Hans Heysen. The twinkling stars and luminous moon in a Van Gogh draws me closer to cosmic mystery, while the gentle wet and wintry haunting headlights in Clarice Beckett’s Motor Lights instantly has me in Melbourne.

My walls have art from the desert and the coast – dot paintings on canvas, paintings on bark and pieces of iron. I have had to learn about this art even though it is from the land I live on, unlike the art of settler stock or European masters. I have a lot to still learn. Like the cauliflower in the garden, these images are now ripe for the picking as I am more ready to learn and understand how to go towards them. Being in the landscapes in which they were created really brings them to life for me, in much the same way as the SALA exhibitions do – familiar places and colours.  Another seasonal gift to be out in these landscapes.

The caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, is a familiar motif for these seasonal changes, and in each caterpillar everything the next season needs is already in the last. Integrating seems to be the message of meeting the moment this week. To bring together with integrity what is being held from one season to the next whether it be in the garden, on the walls, or in the complement of memories. I had a fulsome conversation about integrity and perhaps that is the essence of great art; it is honest, wholesome, sound, it passes our probity test. And that is what moves us and holds us.

The humble cauliflower’s uncompromising integrity at being its best cauliflower self, as an art installation in my winter garden, was transformational.

Before it was soup