Waikerie’s silo art shares the wonder of majestic River Murray

South Australian artist Garry Duncan has been living off his brush since the age of 16. He has spent the past four decades using his work to draw attention around the world to water issues, in particular the Murray Darling Basin and the environment.

Garry has many clients in the corporate sector across Australia and overseas in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

“I have artwork in places as obscure as the Bacardi Rum boardroom in Puerto Rico,” he says.

Therefore, it only seems fitting, that he was one of two artists chosen by a Melbourne based street art consultant to decorate two empty silos owned by grain handling company, Viterra, at Waikerie in the Riverland.

The silo art by Garry features native river creatures such as pelicans, ducks, frogs and rain moths. Photo by Bruce Mouatt.

The SA Government funded project was selected based on community votes and $150,000 was awarded to the project after Waikerie resident and author, Liz Frankel, applied for funding in 2017.

Nature Foundation SA also sponsored the project, which was based on the theme, Healthy River, Healthy Community. The paintings on the silos can be seen from several kilometres away and complements the beauty of the majestic River Murray.

Garry has painted semi-abstract river landscapes and characterised native river creatures such as pelicans, ducks, frogs and rain moths. He used a brush and a roller and did it all freehand, without using graphs to map out his images.

The second artist, Jimmy Dvate from Melbourne, who is well known for his street art, painted a majestic regent parrot, a yabby and the endangered Murray Hardyhead fish.

The artists’ two different styles complement each other.

Melbourne street artist, Jimmy Dvate was also involved in the project and painted this eye-catching regent parrot. Photo by David Sickerdick Photography.

To paint the almost 30m tall silos over a combined period of 16 weeks, the two artists used elevated work platforms. They used nearly 500 litres of paint to complete the works of art, which cover 360 degrees of both silos.

Garry says the silos are the perfect canvas to educate the public about the need to care for the River Murray.

“The river is not a commodity, it is an entity, and that entity is water, sky, the land, the vegetation, all the birds, fish and mammals and the people as well,” he says.

Liz Frankel says the murals, which were completed in March, are already attracting more tourists to Waikerie.

“It is unique because the entire silos are painted all the way around and to my knowledge there is no other silo art project in Australia that has used two artists, it has only been individual artists,” she says.

The Waikerie Silo Art project is unique because the silos are painted all the way around and can be viewed from the land and river.

Garry now lives in the Adelaide Hills with his wife Lou, but the Riverland has been his backdrop since the 1970s. He worked as a sign writer apprentice in Ferntree Gully in Victoria after he left school, but his talent also led to him working on public art murals.

At the age of 18, he moved to Berri in the SA Riverland and set up a sign writing business. Garry also creates sculptures using materials as diverse as glass, timber, steel and stone.

In 1997, he worked with Riverland indigenous artists to complete a mural underneath the Berri Bridge.

After it was damaged by termites in 2017, he was involved in painting a new mural under the bridge and creating a new steel installation based on the Ngurunderi Dreaming Story.

Garry’s iconic art work can also be found on Goolwa’s Hindmarsh Island Bridge, the Brindabella Aerospace Centre at Canberra Airport and on Renmark’s Twenty Third Street Distillery’s Prime 5 Brandy label.

He believes he is fortunate to make a living as an artist who can inform and educate.

Garry Duncan’s Karoonda Shuffle sculptures portray the rhythm of the grain crops grown in the Murray Mallee. Photo by Dave Hartley.

Interested in other silo murals across regional SA? Check out our story on Tumby Bay here!

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From slab of stone to work of art – Maccy sculptures take shape

Talented artists are cutting, splitting, drilling and polishing tonnes of stone for the third instalment of Sculptors @ Crystal Lake in the Adelaide Hills.

The popular festival at Macclesfield’s Crystal Lake has seen nine sculptors start to transform massive slabs of SA granite and marble into sculptural works of art across nine days.

The large stone slabs were craned into position ready for the strenuous creative process, beginning last weekend and continuing until April 14.

Thousands of people will make their way to Crystal Lake Park to witness the action, as sculptors use hammers, picks, angle grinders and other tools to craft the slabs into stunning pieces, some of which will be placed in public locations across the region.

Sculptors hard at work during the early stages of a past Sculptors @ Crystal Lake.

Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is a biennial event which began in 2015 and has since become Macclesfield’s largest event, attracting a significant amount of visitors throughout the town. The main street is about one minute’s drive from Crystal Lake and also swells with visitors throughout the duration of the festival, particularly on the dedicated family day. The final stretch of the festival is spent with sculptors polishing and refining their designs.

Over the years, many of the sculptures have been installed at various public places throughout the Hills region, including at nearby Longview Vineyard, the Stirling Organic Market and Café, at Prospect Hill and in the nearby regional centre of Mt Barker.

The festival, run by the Macclesfield Community Association in conjunction with the Sculptors @ Crystal Lake committee, is fuelled mostly by volunteer effort and the passion of those in the local arts and sculpture scene.

Event co-ordinator Keryn Korr says the event has grown since its first instalment four years ago and that the 2019 festival will include some new additions.

These include sculpture workshops for school groups and the general public with skilled sculptor Evan Maker who will guide participants (aged 12 and over) through a four-hour session. A geological exhibit will showcase stone used to make the sculptures, including signature rare pink Paris Creek/Macclessfield marble, Sellicks Hill marble, Wudinna granite, Padthaway green, and Harlequin granitic gneiss.

Many of the sculptures involve intricate designs and details, creating unique pieces, some of which are to be admired in public settings.

“Geology plays an important role in providing the dimensional stone required to create the sculptures, combined with skilled sculptors who expose the stone’s hidden beauty,” says geological consultant Peter Hough, who prepared the exhibit with support from the Department for Energy and Mining.

“We want people to come to this sculpture fest and go away with a real understanding about the whole process of stone sculpting including the opportunity to attend a workshop and carve their own piece to take home”.

Keryn says Sculptors @ Crystal Lake has a positive impact on local businesses across the nine days.

“This is our third Sculptors @ Crystal Lake and it has a huge following. Macclesfield businesses get really excited and put special (discount) offers into our visitor guide,” she says. “Thousands of people attend, it’s the biggest thing for businesses and it really rocks the village of Maccy.”

The 2.7m black granite ‘Soaring Prospect’ by Ben Tolhurst from the 2017 event can be spotted at the entrance to the historic township of Prospect Hill.

Highly acclaimed sculptor and artistic director Silvio Apponyi is one of the nine sculptors taking on the huge slabs of stone alongside Barry Lincoln, Peter Syndicas, John Nelson, Timothy Spooner, Jina Lee, Quentin Gore, Robert Wuldi and Sally Wickes.

“People who come and visit the park  can watch the transition from rough stone block through to finished work,” he says. “We (sculptors) all stay down here together so we are working together, looking at what each other are making. Most of us would work in our studios, so to get together and work as friends is a really lovely experience.”

Attending symposiums around the world, Silvio has also directed the Adelaide Hills International Sculpture Symposium, while his recent stone creation of former Australian cricket captain Clem Hill stands at the entrance to Adelaide Oval.

His Spriggina floundersi from the 2017 Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is expected to be installed at the University of Adelaide in the near future.

A much-anticipated event at the 2019 Sculptors @ Crystal Lake is the carving of a giant slab of Melba’s chocolate on April 13. At the 2017 event, Silvio carved a giant chocolate bilby from a 120kg chocolate block, using a chainsaw and axe to carve the shapes, sending chocolate shards flying into the air – much to the delight of children. The chocolate carving will unfold again on the Family Day, Saturday April 13, from 3pm.

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Outback wool stories to be spun through AWN design comp

The provenance of South Australian wool will be celebrated through a public design competition launched by the Australian Wool Network (AWN).

AWN is encouraging South Australians with a strong connection to wool growing in the Flinders Ranges and Outback to help shine a spotlight on the industry, its farmers and the quality of locally grown merino wool through the DNA Design Series competition.

People with a strong connection to woolgrowing in the Flinders Ranges and Outback can submit their design idea in hope of it featuring in a high quality Australian merino wool homewares item, such as a blanket. The Limestone Coast and Eyre Peninsula will be included in the DNA Design Series in coming weeks.

Last year, Barossa abstract artist Marnie Gilder teamed up with the AWN to launch a pair of fine merino wool blankets showcasing the Barossa Valley’s wool producers. Following the success of this project, the new national DNA Design Series competition was developed in aim of further showcasing wool growing regions.

A merino wool blanket from Marine Gilder’s ‘Only Merino Barossa’ collection launched in 2018.

AWN DNA program manager Cynthia Jarratt says the competition is part of the organisation’s Direct Network Advantage (DNA) provenance campaign, which enables consumers to understand where wool products come from.

“Our DNA program benefits consumers, who more and more want to know where the fibres they wear and use come from and our wool growers who are just as keen to understand what becomes of the wool they grow,” she says.

“Just like the paddock to plate concept in the hospitality industry, our DNA campaign tracks the wool to its source here in SA in an exciting and innovative way.”

Owners of the DNA fabrics can use their mobile phone to scan a QR swing tag on the woollen product to view information, stories and videos that showcase the region and its wool growers.

Sheep yards from above at Mt Eba Station in outback SA. Photo by Margie Whittlesea.

“We have some of the world’s most desirable merino wool being grown here in SA in some of Australia’s most beautiful country and our DNA program provides a great opportunity to showcase this to not only our Australian customers, but to the many international tourists who purchase our wool products,” Cynthia says.

The chosen wool designs will be sold at selected retail outlets and at Merino and Co – an Australian merino wool clothing store.

Winners will receive $1000 and $500 worth of the final product featuring their design. The Flinders/Outback winner will also receive $1000 donated by SA woolgrowers Tony and Julie Smith of Rawnsley Park Station and MF Jebsen Australia of Martins Well Rangeland Reserve, both of the Flinders Ranges.

Click here for more information and to enter.

Feature image is Andrew Smart of Wilkatana Station at Port Augusta with lamb diva, Ellie May.

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Mundulla sculptures on show

When the Mundulla Show committee introduced an acquisitive sculpture prize as part of its competition line-up, long-time show supporter and Tatiara District councillor, Liz Goossens, became concerned that it wouldn’t catch on.

“We sent out letters to lots of well-known sculptors, but got a bit worried that no one was going to enter,” she says.

Liz raided a friend’s shed and collected a ute-load of steel before setting to work on some creations of her own.

“We’ve been brought up exhibiting all our lives; mum and dad taught us that if you don’t have people entering and getting involved, then you don’t have an event, so it’s definitely in my blood,” she says.

“I didn’t know how to weld, but you could enter anonymously, so I figured no-one would know it was me if they weren’t really up to scratch.”

Sculpturist and Tatiara District councillor Liz Goodens.

Liz’s secret didn’t last long when she was awarded first, second and third place. She used her prize money to buy a new welder, and has been sculpting ever since.

As part of the competition rules, the winning sculptures remain in Mundulla as public artworks, and many now feature along the walking trail on the common land surrounding the picturesque Limestone Coast town.

Originally intended for grazing, the area spanning 110ha is now a popular recreational space widely used by residents and visitors, and sculptures of birds, butterflies, snails, kangaroos, emus, frogs and flying ducks are a big drawcard.

“There’s even fairies and lots of other small things that kids love; you might come across a bird up a tree – it isn’t always obvious, as a lot of them blend in with their surroundings,” Liz says.

With her own backyard overlooking the trail, Liz frequently adds to the collection, often collaborating with long-time Country Fire Service volunteer Brian Wiese.

One of the creations along the walking trail.

“Although I know what I’m trying to create, I often don’t know the engineering side of it but Brian’s really practical, and I love his ‘we’ll be right’ attitude,” Liz says.

This year’s theme for the show sculpture prize is ‘The Wheels of Time’ and Liz’s creation is still evolving. She’s also trying out black forest cake recipes after the council CEO challenged the elected female members to a show bake-off. Meanwhile, Mayor Graham Excell and the male councillors are vying for the best West End beer cake.

“It’s all a lot of fun,” Liz says. “While other country shows are struggling, we’ve always had a really strong indoor section, and I think it’s because Mundulla has been innovative and moved with the times.”

The Mundulla Show is held every year on the first Saturday of March in conjunction with the Moot Yang Gunya Festival. For more information, visit mundullashow.org.au

The walking trail features sculptures of wildlife and other abstract creations.

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International mural artists set to bring Port Adelaide streets alive

International artists will descend upon Port Adelaide late next month to transform more of the Port’s blank walls into vibrant works of art.

Three-day festival Wonderwalls Port Adelaide, in conjunction with The Big Picture Fest, will attract world class street artists to transform bland walls throughout the town centre into striking art installations, to be celebrated publicly from March 29–31.

Wonderwalls Port Adelaide, which has been held biennially since 2015, transforming key sites such as the Marine and Harbors building on St Vincent Street, and Harts Mill into colourful attractions. More than 70 artists have taken part in past festivals.

Four visiting international artists Sat One (Rafael Gerlach) of Germany, Peeta (Manuel Di Rita) of Italy, Akue 1 of Russia and husband and wife duo Diva and Phat 1 (Charles and Janine Williams) of New Zealand, will begin painting their creations a few days before the festival on March 25 before finishing a week later on March 31.

If this mural by New Zealand artists Diva and Phat 1 is anything to go by, the 2019 Port Adelaide creation is set to be stunning.

South Australia’s finest street and mural artists Sarah Boese, 10TKL and Dave Court will represent the local creative space.

Organisers say the 2017 event drew more than 20,000 visitors across one weekend.

Fellow SA mural artist Joel Van Moore, better known as Vans the Omega, is Wonderwalls’ creative director and says the festival grows from strength to strength each year, with 2019 shaping up to be more impressive than ever.

“Wonderwalls brings together some of the world’s most highly acclaimed street artists to work alongside Adelaide’s finest and encourages local creatives to exceed in their endeavours,” he says.

A number of events will unfold throughout the festival, including welcome parties, art walks, and photographic tours and workshops. Pirate Life Brewery will also celebrate with music festival, A Day on the Cans, on Saturday March 30.

Onlookers watch artist Smug complete his wall during the 2015 Wonderwalls Festival.

Former Art Gallery of SA director Nick Mitzevich, who now heads up the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, is fond of Wonderwalls and says it has transformed Port Adelaide into a museum without walls.

“Bringing mural artists from around the world to the Port demonstrates that art is no longer about the edifice,” he says.

“Art can be everywhere. This is not a new point to make, in fact, in many ways it’s a reminder of the essential role that art has played for most of history.”

Wonderwalls is run in conjunction with The Big Picture Fest, an independent mural festival run by Joel Van Moore and mainly focused on small-scale festivals and the growing hunger for mural work in regional towns and cities.

The four international artists painting at Wonderwalls will also tour The Big Picture Fest in Franklin, Victoria, from March 22–24. The Big Picture Fest came to Adelaide during the SA Living Artists (SALA) festival last year, as well as Port Pirie on SA’s Yorke Peninsula.

Global collectors blown away by SA glass artists

Glass artists from South Australia are gaining increasing global recognition as the state’s unique arts institutions help create opportunities on the world stage.

“When it comes to glass, on an international and national scale SA is renowned,” says Emma Fey from SA’s leading creative organisation Guildhouse.

She cites a group visit this month from Canada’s Corning Museum, revealing that Adelaide was specifically chosen for meetings with key glass practitioners over other cities in Australia.

Emma says that SA has “some really unique specialisations” that are a legacy of its strong teaching institutions created from the 1960s onwards.

She lists the likes of SALA Artist of 2018 Clare Belfrage who “has won a bucket load of prizes” and made several overseas visits representing her work this year among particularly prominent names.

Wakefield Press recently published a monograph Clare Belfrage: Rhythms of necessity exploring the significance of her contribution to contemporary international glass art.

Clare has maintained a distinguished practice for more than 25 years with her highly detailed blown glass making her one of the country’s most renowned designer-makers.

Clare Belfrage’s glass work, ‘A wash in greens’.

Then there’s the “extraordinarily talented” Nick Mount, whose work is represented in major private and public collections including state galleries and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

And Tom Moore, well-known for his maximalist style and is one of Australia’s most respected glass artists.

Emma from Guildhouse believes the rich relationships between institutions like Adelaide’s JamFactory “where Clare still blows hot glass in the studio a couple of times a week” build a strong arts community.

“It’s feedback we often get from larger cities, especially on the east coast of Australia,” she says. “In SA we’re small enough that the ecosystem is dynamic and there’s lots of collaboration.”

The former development manager at the Art Gallery of South Australia took over the reins of Guildhouse about 18 months ago.

Established in 1966, Guildhouse was originally known as the Craft Association of South Australia, and is a member-based organisation promoting and supporting the careers of living SA artists, art students, curators, installers and arts workers.

Emma has overseen the peak body reaching record membership numbers, growing 15% to 830 members during her time in the role.

The organisation also moved to the Lion Arts Centre among other contemporary arts institutions in the West End of the city during December last year with support from Arts SA – which also has led to a “huge increase in the number of people popping in”.

Emma says it’s all about “connecting artists with the outside world and letting the magic happen”.

She refers to the organisation’s Well Made website – created to showcase high quality and bespoke creative work in SA and to give buyers looking for unique work the opportunity to connect directly.

Emma Fey from SA’s leading creative organisation Guildhouse says the state’s glass artists are renowned on a global scale.

There’s been a particular focus on strengthening the platform with Guildhouse last year winning a Google Adwords grant worth US$120,000 to spend US$10,000 per month on Google Adwords. The move has doubled Well Made website views, reaching up to 300 visitors a day.

It’s also seen an increase in enquiries resulting in commissions from the likes of Twentieth Century Fox to the City of Charles Sturt and The Gallery restaurant and bar on Waymouth Street in Adelaide. Emma says more than 50 artists now use the curated site.

“There are quite a few commissions coming through the website and we really want to grow that,” she says.

“We have a really diverse sector of artists working across all forms of visual arts practice – from the more traditional to new and experimental art.

“Some of the emerging artists are jaw-droppingly amazing. Likewise, we have an enviable cohort of accomplished mid-career and established artists that have chosen SA as their home and place of business – we are incredibly fortunate.”

Emma believes there’s been a gradual change among artists who look toward creating sustainable businesses, with Guildhouse supporting them through their website, workshops and funding opportunities.

“For a number of artists the language around marketing and understanding what they bring to the market place is something new, but it feels like that is changing,” she says.

“Still, the key thing I would say is that when it comes to succeeding, your work has to be excellent – the important thing is to have great work and from there anything is possible.”

Header image is of glass artist Clare Belfrage. Photo by Grant Hocking.

Industry in focus: Craft industries

Throughout the months of November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Meet the makers behind SA’s craft industries

In an ever-changing world of emerging technologies and high-tech systems, now is the perfect time to also appreciate South Australia’s skilled artisans and craft industry entrepreneurs.

Our state’s artists and makers – from furniture makers, jewellers, ceramists, glassblowers, leatherworkers, and fashion designers – are creating works that make waves on a global scale.

Many of our craftspeople are professionals who dedicate their creative careers to showcasing beauty and aesthetics with respect to sustainability and the environment.

Throughout November and December, Brand SA News will take you inside craft industries as part of Brand South Australia’s successful I Choose SA campaign.

Not only will the success stories of traditional craftspeople be told, but so too will the tales of our craft brewers, distillers, winemakers and food producers – those making niché products using high-quality ingredients and processes.

Each of the highlighted craftspeople will have sustainability initiatives in place, whether it be a trendy craft brewery using a sustainable water supply, a craftsman giving a second life to aged wine barrels or a furniture maker creating pieces from recycled timber.

The JamFactory at Seppeltsfield in the Barossa Valley provides a space for craft and design.

Across the eight weeks of craft industries coverage, we’ll bring you these exact stories and many more, including a yarn on Kangaroo Island Wool and its tight-knit group of wool growers, organic and biodynamic winemakers, and botanical skincare labels.

We’ll take you on a tour of Adelaide CBD creative hub The Mill, home to a collection of established and emerging designers. We’ll also go inside Kangaroo Island’s honey industry to explore the sweet stuff made from the island’s Ligurian bees, believed to be the last remaining pure stock of the species in the world.

Two craftspeople will be appointed as Brand South Australia’s newest I Choose SA ambassadors, sharing their personal stories, achievements, challenges and thoughts on the industry.

So, step inside the world of paint, fabric, metal, glass, wood, fabrics, recycled materials, leather, botanicals and natural products to uncover something special.

Want to learn more? For a complete run down of the state’s craft industries, head along to Brand South Australia’s Industry Briefing at Plant 4 Bowden on November 19.

Guests will hear from Business SA chair Nikki Govan, JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes and gin producer Brendan Carter of Applewood Distillery in the Adelaide Hills.

What: Brand South Australia I Choose SA for Craft Industries Industry Briefing
When: November 19, 4.30–6.30pm.
Where: Plant 4 Bowden
Tickets: Click here to purchase.


Industry in focus: craft industries

Throughout November and December, the state’s craft industries will be celebrated as part of I Choose SA.

South Australian craftspeople make up some of our most creative thinkers and makers of sustainable and innovative goods. Read more craft stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Shop South Australia is home to a unique collection of over 300 South Australian gifts and goods from more than 70 local makers and producers. Choose local and Shop South Australia.

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Untold migrant stories reawakened on Port Pirie stage

The stories of Greek, Cypriot and Italian migrants post WWII will be brought to life on the stage for what will be the State Theatre Company’s first regional premiere.

South Australian actor, playwright and Greek Cypriot descendant Elena Carapetis is reigniting the oral histories of migrants in Port Pirie, where her grandparents settled and she spent her childhood.

Historical fiction The Gods of Strangers will in November have its world premiere in the seaport town, home to many Greek and Italian migrants who settled in SA from their homelands after WWII.

Elena is State Theatre Company’s artist in residence and so when she was approached by director Geordie Brookman to write a play about the country, she knew instantly she was set for a trip down memory lane.

“He said do you want to write a show about the country, and I said ‘yes!’. Immediately before I had even thought about it, I just said instinctively that it will have to be set in Pirie and it would probably be based on my family history,” she says.

“He said ‘great’, and that’s how it all started.”

Dina Panozzo in The Gods of Strangers. Photo by Tash McCammon.

Elena explored her own family’s history to create The Gods of Strangers, featuring Dina Panozzo, Renato Musolino and Eugenia Fragos, and presented in association with Country Arts SA and Playwriting Australia.

The play is the result of a major commission through the Regional Theatre Strategy, which is the basis of a four-year partnership between Country Arts SA and State Theatre Company.

Set in 1947, the performance explores the untold stories and challenges faced by Greek, Cypriot and Italian migrants, with Elena dedicating the work to her grandparents, Yianni and Eleni Carapetis.

It will be performed in three languages, English, Italian and Greek and also in Auslan for the benefit of the deaf community.

“When my family and other Greek and Italian people come to see this show, I think it’s going to be the first time that many people have seen their own language and culture reflected back,” Elena says.

“More often than not women aren’t featured in the centre of stories, they’re instead connected to being someone’s mother or wife.

“I’ve basically done everything that people don’t expect to see; two protagonists who are women, over the age of 50 and English is their second language.”

The Gods of Strangers tells the tale of two migrant women who answer a knock at their doors by a stranger.

Photo by Sia Duff.

“At the heart of Greek and I think very much so Italian culture, is this idea of the meaning behind the Greek word ‘filotimo’, which means the hospitality and love you show to a stranger,” Elena says.

“It goes back to ancient Greek times when the gods would disguise themselves as humans and come to Earth to test humans, even if a beggar was at your door you’d let them in because they might be a god in disguise.

“These two women let these strangers into the house and it’s about what happens when these new forces collide with their lives.”

Elena researched for months Greek, Cypriot and Italian settlement in Port Pirie, visiting the region to reconnect with locals and hear their stories. She also visited libraries and spoke with academics to learn about what life was like in regional SA post WWII.

The play is also inspired by the stories of her own grandparents, including her grandmother who came to Australia as a young woman, set to marry a man she had never met, but only seen in a photo.

“With Greek culture, and with my grandma, she was sent a photo of a man she had never met, he paid for her passage, she got on a ship and came to Australia to marry him,” Elena says.

“But when my grandma got here, the man wasn’t the same man as the one in the photo, so she basically said, ‘I’m not marrying you’, which was huge.”

Elena Carapetis reflected on her family’s history for her latest work, The Gods of Strangers. Photo by Sia Duff.

Eventually Elena’s grandmother married neither the mystery man in the photo or the man waiting for her at the altar, but instead fell for the man who lived next door to her best friend.

Elena says The Gods of Strangers honours the sacrifices made by the women in her family.

Born in Whyalla, Elena grew up in Port Pirie before moving to Adelaide towards the end  of her primary school years.

After high school she studied drama at the University of Adelaide before being accepted into Australia’s leading drama school NIDA in Sydney, at a time when acting royalty Cate Blanchett had graduated two years prior.

After NIDA, Elena scored theatre and TV gigs before landing a role on Aussie drama Heartbreak High.

She spent 12 years in Sydney, moving back to Adelaide in 2003 “just check in with family”.

But Elena ended up staying in SA, employed by the State Theatre Company and cementing herself on the local stage as well as teaching at the Adelaide College of the Arts and Flinders University.

“What has kept me here is my family and the lifestyle,” Elena says.

“I’ve made some really beautiful connections with people here, they’re like my art family.”

The Gods of Strangers will premiere at Port Pirie’s Northern Festival Centre on November 9 and 10 before showing in Adelaide from November 14–December 2. Click here for details on the Port Pirie shows and here for details on the Adelaide run.

Ben Quilty’s first survey exhibition in a decade heads to Adelaide

The Art Gallery of South Australia will be the first to host a major exhibition by one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists.

Archibald Prize 2011 winner Ben Quilty will present his first major survey exhibition in a decade in Adelaide in 2019 before the collection tours to Queensland and New South Wales.

Titled Quilty, the exhibition will feature a career’s worth of works including Ben’s early reflection on the initiation rituals performed by young Australian men, his experience as an official war artist in Afghanistan and his campaign to save the lives of Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were executed by firing squad in 2015.

Ben mentored and became a friend to Sukumaran during his years on death row, inspiring the prisoner’s love for art and encouraging creativity behind bars.

Also included in the survey exhibition will be works inspired by Ben’s visits with Australian author Richard Flanagan to Lebanon, Lesbos and Serbia, his revisions of the Australian landscape, and portraits of himself, his family and friends.

Ben Quilty, Australia, born 1973, ‘Self-portrait after Afghanistan’, 2012, Southern Highlands, New South Wales, oil on canvas, 130.0 x 120.0 cm, private collection, Sydney, courtesy the artist.

“My work is about working out how to live in this world, it’s about compassion and empathy but also anger and resistance,” Ben says.

“Through it I hope to push compassion to the front of national debate.”

Quilty will be presented as part of the 2019 Adelaide Festival and curated by Art Galley of SA co-acting director Lisa Slade.

“The exhibition presents a portrait of a socially engaged contemporary artist who is committed to art’s capacity to instigate change,” Lisa says.

“Quilty’s subjects are never objectified, but always rendered through the lens of personal experience.

“For most of this century Quilty has been delivering urgent visions of our time in history.

“An unlikely activist, he wields paint to draw our attention to our responsibility as critical citizens in an increasingly fraught world.”

Ben Quilty, Australia, born 1973, ‘The Last Supper no.9’, 2017, Southern Highlands, New South Wales, oil on linen, 265.0 x 202.0 cm; courtesy the artist and Tolarno Galleries.

In 2011, Ben’s portrait of legendary Australian artist Margaret Olley was awarded one of the country’s most prestigious accolades, the Archibald Prize.

He then travelled to Afghanistan as Australia’s official war artist and in 2013 presented the Australian War Memorial’s major touring exhibition, After Afghanistan.

Art critic John McDonald says Ben is willing to go where many people wouldn’t otherwise step foot.

“Quilty’s radical humanism has lured him outside the sedate spaces of the art gallery into war zones, refugee camps, and the Bali prison where Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were executed,” he says.

“Not many of us would willingly undertake such journeys, which reveal Quilty’s compassion for the victim, his determination to use his skills (and increasingly high profile) to make a difference.”

Quilty will be unveiled at the Art Gallery of SA on March 2, 2019, running until June 2.

OzAsia Festival program lands with record number of events

Disco dancing Korean grandmothers, acrobatic Shaolin monks and a group of millennial girls in a ‘fishbowl dormitory’ are among highlights of the 2018 OzAsia Festival program launched this week.

The 12th annual OzAsia Festival, Australia’s only international festival celebrating contemporary art from Asia, will feature five world premieres and 20 Australian premieres from October 25 – November 11.

OzAsia Festival director Joseph Mitchell says the level of talent and exclusivity in the event was a testament to Adelaide as the festival capital of Australia.

“I think it’s just another example of Adelaide being much more ahead of the game, innovative and aware of the role and responsibility of art and culture,” says Joseph, who moved in 2015 to Adelaide from Toronto, Canada, to take on the director’s role.

“I’ve always felt that South Australia has been a bit more innovative and leading the way.”

A record number of 60 events will unfold at various venues, featuring works from 817 artists from countries including Japan, Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, Korea, The Philippines, Hong Kong and Indonesia.

Hundreds of SA and interstate artists will also be involved, while the event organisers are hoping for visitor attendances to hit a record 200,000 people.

A scene from Here is the message you asked for… don’t tell anyone else 😉

Joseph says one of the most appealing aspects of OzAsia is the artists’ ability to create truly unique projects that set apart from theatre traditions.

One of the highlight performances is Sun Xiaoxing’s Here is the message you asked for… don’t tell anyone else ;), featuring a group of millennial girls in a transparent bedroom set.

Audience members can communicate on their mobile phones with the performers through popular Chinese social media app WeChat.

“The audience can use WeChat and interact with these girls who are essentially living their lives in their bedrooms, they’re playing computer games, using social media, drinking Coca-Cola, dressing up in cosplay and living their own identity,” Joseph says.

“They don’t talk to you, there’s no script and there’s no narrative, you watch this fishbowl performance installation which has live music … and the only way you can get a grasp on it is to communicate through WeChat.

“It completely rewrites the traditional theatre experience. It’s a great example of what OzAsia is.”

Dancing Grandmothers. Photo by Eunji Park.

Prolific Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn’s Dancing Grandmothers is another highlight, featuring real life Korean grandmothers grooving under disco balls.

Eun-Me Ahn travelled her native country to meet the everyday women who founded modern Korea and to film them dancing in their villages.

Along with a screening of the video, a small group of the grandmothers themselves will hit the stage of Adelaide’s Dunstan Playhouse.

Other inspiring pieces include award-winning choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and his masterpiece Sutra.

The critically acclaimed acrobatic piece features Cherkaoui and 19 Shaolin monks.

The festival’s most highly attended event, is the Moon Lantern Parade on October 27 featuring a parade of 40 large handmade lanterns including a 40m-long Hong Kong dragon.

OzAsia Festival artistic director Joseph Mitchell.

Visitors can also eat their way around Asia at the Lucky Dumpling Market on the Adelaide Riverbank lawn every night except Mondays.

Orginally from Newcastle, Joseph came to Adelaide after living in Toronto, Canada, where he lead multi-arts event the Luminato Festival.

He was also the executive producer of the Brisbane Festival.

“The Brisbane Festival and OzAsia ran at the same time so we’d shared work before and that’s when I became aware of OzAsia,” he says.

“I thought it was just so refreshingly different.

“There is no other festival in this country that operates annual and focusses on contemporary art and culture in Asia.”

Check out the full program here.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s masterpiece Sutra.

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