August 1, 2019. The stunning work of nearly 400 artists in 78 exhibitions will be revealed across the Fleurieu Peninsula throughout August to celebrate the 22nd South Australian Living Artists Festival.
It is the biggest open access visual arts festival in the world, and the medium is just as broad as the regular and pop-up galleries in lane ways and the scattering of wineries across McLaren Vale.
Art is coming to cafes, a hairdressing salon and even a pizza bar with the lot, all embracing so many gifted and emerging artists.
There are also the more prominent and definitive galleries who support these painters, potterers, glassblowers, printmakers and so on all year round, and we talk to those who run three of them – Warren Pickering & Anna Small at the Fleurieu Arthouse, McLaren Vale, John & Liz Francis at Artworx, Goolwa, and Ron Langman & Sonya Hender at The Strand Gallery, Port Elliot.
For a complete guide to the 2019 SALA Festival visit:
WARREN PICKERING & ANNA SMALL: FLEURIEU ARTHOUSE
Warren Pickering worked as an architect and carpenter, but when he started helping his wife Anna Small by making frames for her brilliant creations his own inner artistic talent emerged.
They now run the Fleurieu Arthouse Studios in the Main Street of McLaren which also fixes the needs of other artists – creating a studio from which they can create right before the eyes of admirers, who hopefully then purchase their work.
According to Warren, pictured above with his wife, Anna, being an artist can be a lonely existence. “Our practising artists often bounce ideas off each other,” he said. “They actually learn from each other, which is a great thing. We can make the journey a collective one and not a lonely trail.”
The Fleurieu Arthouse, which is supported by Onkaparinga Council, was created two years ago this week within the stunning grounds of historic winery Hardys Tintara. As many as 10 local artisans are on-site working and chatting to visitors. It’s about bringing art to real life.
The initial challenge for Warren and Anna was huge – they moved into an empty space and within six weeks needed to make or install everything from the front counter and shelving to the plinths. Hardys kindly provided 300 pallets made from classic oak timber used to create an inviting alley-like pen environment from within the artists work.
“Yes, this is a business, but there is also that sense of pride helping other artists,” Warren said. “It is the essence of what we do here. We try to facilitate artists’ careers.
“Anna and I have been practising artists professionally for more than10 years and we are well aware of the fact there are very few places where artists may make a collaboration or have interactive space not only with the public but with each other. That was the whole philosophy behind this place; to try and create a little hub.
“McLaren Vale needed something like this. It did not have a designated gallery as such, which to me seemed quite ludicrous in some ways. I have travelled all over Australia, particularly the wine regions, and they all have designated galleries.
“Here, the wineries take up a fair bit of slack and do a wonderful job of having exhibitions within their cellar door, but with this we felt we needed designated space.
“People like the interaction, an experience that comes with offering workshops. You have your avid SALA goers who will go around the circuit, and in our short time in the gallery there has definitely been an increase in interest in exhibitions.”
This festival the Fleurieu Arthouse is also opening its doors to facilitate additional artists, creating two or three events simultaneously under the same roof.
Warren and Anna will be joined by Elizabeth Abbott, Che Chorley, Claire Kennett, Eileen Lubiana, Sonja MacLean, Jessica Patrick, Christine Small, Hugues Vilette and Brooke Walker from August 4-28 to present Fierce/Fragile [Nature], supported by other exhibitions Coastal Imaginings by John Freeman from Aug 4-31, PULP.it by Amanda Chalmer from Aug. 4-28, and Come Round Again by Elizabeth Abbott until September 30.
Fleurieu Arthouse: gallery, artisan, studio & shop – 202 Main Rd, McLaren Vale. T: 7288 3095. www.fleurieuarthouse.com.au
JOHN & LIZ FRANCIS: ARTWORX GALLERY
The South Australian Living Arts (SALA) Festival is underway again and Artworx at Goolwa is celebrating with an exhibition of pieces by more than 50 artists.
Come the opening hours throughout August, art lovers, busloads of tourists and the curious will all call in to see these works, which gallery owners Liz and John Francis (pictured) hope some will be inspired to buy.
To them, the gallery is more than a business. “It’s also a way to promote some of our most creative and talented artists,” Liz said. “It is hugely rewarding personally.
“There’s nothing better than letting an artist know that we have sold a piece of their work, something they have created with love and passion.
“Being the go-between and passing on to someone else a piece of artwork that fills them with joy, is such a thrill.”
Also walking through the door in Hays Street will be other artists; SALA is as much about these gifted people checking out the works of others as it is to potential buyers searching for that exquisite piece, finding something unique to take home.
John said working in an artistic environment has its own particular challenges; choosing what to exhibit can be tricky. “Sometimes it is not easy being a critic like you need to be,” he said.
“We might like something which other people don’t, but that is art, isn’t it? It presents a challenge.”
Liz said there were so many artists knocking on the door asking for their work to be exhibited and that meant some tough decisions.
“We do need to critique because some art may not suit here,” she added. “This is a small regional gallery and it does have a specific market. One of our criteria with the work here is that it must to be of high standard.”
Artworx Gallery was started in 2005 and John and Liz took it over almost four years ago. It‘s always been known for its diversity, the quality of the works on show, and for being one of the greatest supporters of local artists through regular exhibitions.
Outside of SALA, in recent years alone, more than 150 artists have had their works presented here, many of them at a time when they have been most in need of support. Being exhibited is a blend of acknowledgement, reward and encouragement, and a necessary part of an artist forging a reputation.
John said SALA was especially important for some of the lesser-known and younger artists. “It gives them a chance to get their work in front of the public,” he said.
“Unless they are in a gallery and do a lot of self-promotion they don’t get the exposure. It is a nice feeling knowing that you have the opportunity to promote so many people deserving to have their work exhibited. It is a business, but to us the reward is helping the artists.”
Liz said her passion for art came from growing up surrounded by paintings. Her grandmother and mother were both accomplished artists and she studied art herself at Teachers’ College.
“Art has travelled with me,” Liz said. Now people are travelling to Goolwa to see the art at John and Liz’s Artworx Gallery.
During the festival month people will have the opportunity to see artists at work at Artworx Gallery. In residence will be Carol Coventry (Aug 3, 2-4pm), Victoria Rolinski (Aug 3, 11am-1pm), Lorraine Brown (Aug 10, 1.30-3.30pm) and Lorraine Lewitzka (Aug 11, 1 – 3.30pm).
Artworx Gallery: 10-12 Hays St, Goolwa. T: 8555 0949. www.artworxgallery.com.au
RON LANGMAN & SONYA HENDER THE STRAND GALLERY
Ron Langman left school before completing Year 10 to work as an advertising photographer for Colin Ballantyne & Partners and found himself in an exciting world with actors, actresses, theatre producers and artists.
People from an array artistic backgrounds became a wonderful influence on him and his love for art – without actually producing something with a brush. He saw beauty in photography, particularly black & white, that became his life-long passion. In this world, no one did it better in landscape form than the acclaimed American photographer Ansel Adams (1902-84).
Ron, pictured above, will exhibit some of his own excellent black & white images during SALA, and present a talk on Ansel Adams in The Strand Gallery, a stunning home for artistic excellence in Port Elliot, which Ron owns with his wife Sonya Hender.
Sonya is an artist of note in her own right as a printmaker, which led to moving into the old post office in The Strand.
“The photography part of that part of my early life was important, but the advertising part became more important because the advertising community in the mid 60s was all very arty people,” Ron said.
“It is now a privilege to run The Strand Gallery because we, particularly Sonya, get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from helping artists and embracing what this SALA Festival represents.
“We did not set out to start an art gallery. Sonya was a printmaker and had a place where she did her work and ran classes, but the conditions didn’t suit her needs.
“We saw this post office for sale three years ago as a means of allowing her to run her class and also have a studio at the back. We wanted a small place where we could display our work, but it suddenly became quite popular.
“We seemed to know a lot of artists and in particular Tom O’Callahan and John Lacey who were happy to come in here. The gallery became bigger and bigger and the studio became smaller and smaller. From a humble beginning it has become a commercial activity.
“It has always been Sonya’s passion to help the artists.
“Our discussion on whom we thought we should have in the gallery for SALA became difficult because we didn’t want one artist to feel that he or she had been overlooked by another. Sonya suggested to just do my photographs.
“I didn’t want to put up the same work all the time so I thought I would just show black & white landscapes. This led to me thinking that the most famous black & white landscape photographer is Ansel Adams from the 1930s & 40s and maybe it would be best to give a talk on him and his impact on digital black & white. You don’t see a lot of black & white in digital.”
Among countless things, Adams was noted for being a founder of Group f/64, an association of photographers advocating ‘pure’ photography which favored sharp focus and the use of the full tonal range of a photograph.
Ron’s lecture is partly about the West Coast American response to landscape photography versus what was going on across the East Coast during an era when Adams was at the forefront of photography. “They really were at the opposite ends of the scale,” Ron explained. “I will also do some demonstration on what I do on on computer to make good black and whites out of coloured imagery.”
There is global admiration for Ansel’s work, which led to the formation of the f:64 group, which originally represented a small number of San Francisco photographers who shared similar ideals about their work and supported each other in the pursuit of higher quality images.
Simply, f:64 is an aperture setting that is only seen on large and very large format cameras, a way the group could differentiate themselves from the style of photography then practised in New York and Europe.
Photography was invented mid 19th century, and for most of the next 50 years it was largely used to record subjects and events. The content was more important than the aesthetic quality of the image.
By early 20th century, artists, who had seen photography as a threat began to see it as an artistic medium. Artists would ‘paint’ the emulsion on glass plates to introduce their own unique contribution to their work. They began to produce images that did not need to be an accurate rendering of reality, but stood in their own right as works of art.
Their work was inherently urban and used the built form as their subjects. In a sense they were assisted by the overcast or even polluted light of cities where the contrast range was within what there materials could accommodate.
Photographing urban life and “street photography” led to smaller cameras and a need for higher film speeds. This led to longer development times which in turn led to greater contrast and further loss of tonal range.
Meanwhile, out in the west, people were closer to nature. Capturing breathtaking landscapes in Yosemite or the Arizona Badlands meant dealing with extreme limits of tonal range and a requirement for better control of tones and graduation.
Exposure times, aperture settings and development of negatives had to be measured and calculated more carefully. Ansel Adams and others led the way with exhaustive experiments striving for better and better quality.
Ron Langman’s lecture on Ansil Adams is on Sunday, August 4 from 2pm at The Strand Gallery, 41 The Strand, Port Elliot. T: 0419 501 648.