South Australian Living Artists Festival kicks off across the state

By / 1st of August, 2014

IT IS August and art runs rampant through the city of Adelaide.

There's art on show in coffee shops and restaurants, in hair salons and corner stores. It's on the laneway walls, fences, galleries big and small. It is in huge, glossy corporate lobbies. It is in theatre foyers.  Even private homes turn on exhibitions for the South Australian Living Arts Festival.

It is a month-long effervescence of visual arts. 

It does not stop in the city. Country towns and far-flung wineries are showcasing regional talents. Rural craft shops and artisan studios, country pubs and cafes are in on it.

From Burra to the Limestone Coast, from the Fleurieu to Eyre Peninsula, it's a joy of art.

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The South Australian Living Arts Festival is yet another vivid and imaginative feather in the arts cap of the arts state. 

And, another first.

When it  began in 1998, it was only a week long. Paul Greenaway OAM, director of Greenaway Gallery and Sam Hill-Smith of Hill-Smith Gallery set it going to create fresh outlets and opportunities for artists. There were just 21 metropolitan galleries and 20 country exhibition spaces involved.

Now it has simply taken over. 

"It is an art explosion unrivalled anywhere in the world," declares SALA General Manager Penny Griggs.

"This is the seventeenth state-wide SALA Festival and it offers over 547 exhibitions and events featuring over 4,627 participating artists. 

"Highlights of the event include the open studio weekend on 9 – 10 August, a wide range of art tours and artist talks including a new artist forum day titled The Artists’ Voice featuring panel discussions and debate on Sunday 17 August at the Art Gallery of South Australia."

Griggs urges the public to go exploring to "discover new and unusual venues and meet the wonderful local artists throughout South Australia."

They may be surprised. There's even living artist art at the Centennial Park Cemetery in the middle of Adelaide.

 Last year there were 300 exhibition openings and the SALA's website was hosting 929 artist portfolios.

SALA shows are free to the public - but for many, it is a chance to invest.

Art sales through 2013 SALA show reaped $724,000.

"SALA gives quite a boost to the economy, especially the artists," says Griggs.

Not only do artists go into creative overdrive to adorn the state with artworks, but also the state's businesses large and small pour enthusiasm in their path with sponsorships and prizes.

This is the dream chance for artists to spring from obscurity.

There are assorted newspaper art awards, the street paper Rip It Up giving a prize for young artists, The Adelaide Review giving a prize for artists with a disability. The Advertiser gives a substantial Contemporary Art Prize. The Jam Factory has an award for jewellery, there's an OzMinerals Copper Sculpture award, there are photography awards, an emerging artist award, a craft award...

Where once artists may have whistled in the wind looking for exposure, now businesses veritably vie for them. The result is SALA partnerships.

Canny corporations can find their perfect match. Fox Creek wines, for instance, based in the McLaren Vale region, is this year showing Liz French ex of Royal College of Art, London, and latterly of the North Adelaide School of Art. She crosses the spheres of printmaking and digitally manipulated photography and, being a local artist, she uses the wine region as a dominant theme.

Machine embroidery artist, Cheryl Bridgart, turns on a huge black tie opening night party in her converted carriage house studio and gallery in the inner city.

Commercial galleries such as Art Images have themed group shows, this year "Patterns & Rhythms" by leading names such as Annabelle Collette, Ann Newmarch, Mark Warren and others.

Just outside of the city in the Adelaide Hills, The Barn, once part of Marbury School and now known as the Worth Gallery, is having a drawing marathon hosted by Liana Vargas as well as a mixed SALA exhibition.

Libraries, Council offices, law firms, shopping centres, and government premises host artists's works.

Amateur painters may interact with leading arts names. There are artist residency programs, seminars, forums and workshops.

The television and radio stations, even the wordsmiths - the Writers' Centres and publisher Wakefield Press - fly the visual arts flag throughout August.

 “During August,” says Penny Griggs “Being an artist in South Australia is something to be celebrated."

Images & Media

  • Liz French
  • Liz French
  • Liz French
  • Liz French
  • Liz French