Neoterica Adelaide Festival 2024Adelaide Festival. Northeastern Concourse, Adelaide Railway Station. 7 Mar 2024


Adelaide railway station proves to be a great place for an art exhibition.


The Adelaide Festival’s Neoterica art exhibition is a survey of the work of 20 mid-career South Australian artists — a showcase of some of South Australia’s best and most interesting contemporary art, accompanied by a catalogue containing texts on each artist’s work.


The catalogue, which is made available free of charge, is an essential element of the exhibition, as each writer and artist work together as a pair, and the artworks can be more fully appreciated through their associated texts. The text can take the form of a contextualising essay, an illuminating piece of prose, or a poem responding to the work.


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Neoterica exterior, Adelaide railway station, photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


The exhibition is intended to provide support for the participating artists and, as Neoterica’s project lead/curator/producer Ray Harris notes in the catalogue, “It is … the largest current survey exhibition in South Australia, and the largest exhibition showing all SA artists.” It is “…an artist-led, artist-focussed, grass roots initiative working outside establishments, infrastructure and security.”


Neoterica is not a themed exhibition — the artists are invited to pursue their own interests and concerns — and the resulting collection is highly diverse in subject matter and artistic form and materials, ranging across painting, sculpture, installation, photography, ceramics, print-making, video and sound, and various combinations of these. Many of the works are very personal in nature — expressive evocations of the artist’s memories and feelings.


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Bernadette Klavins, Study of a memory, 2024, installation view; Sarah Tickle’s two-screen video Storm Center, 2024, can be seen in the background, and the edge of Jess Taylor’s Year Zero (2024) at right. Photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


Bernadette Klavins’ installation entitled Study of a memory comprises several elements: an array of synthetic oak leaves suspended from the ceiling and lit to cast shadows on the gallery floor to suggest the sun shining through the leaves of oak trees; an open suitcase filled with soil; and a plaster cast of a human hand positioned above the image of a handwritten letter affixed to an adjacent pillar.


As explained in Kathie Stove’s essay, the work represents Klavins’ reflections on the experience of her grandfather in Latvia during and after World War II, his migration to Australia, and the oak trees in his Adelaide garden, which remain as childhood memories. The soil was brought to Australia to be buried with him following his passing, and Klavins’ work is a touching memorial to his life.


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Riza Manalo, Homage to the Unknown 2023-2024, installation view, photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


Riza Manalo’s Homage to the Unknown comprises a beautiful 15 ft canoe which is wrapped in waxed calico, and adjacent to it is a video that shows the quietly-rolling sea under a grey sky. As the video progresses, the sea level rises until it fills the screen, and on first glance, the video might be interpreted as a warning of the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps, or a reference to refugees’ perilous voyages.


Evidently, Manalo purchased the boat over the internet. It was made by a man who had subsequently died, and Manalo embalmed it as an act of homage to this unknown boat-builder. Alysha Herrmann’s accompanying text, entitled We repeat ourselves, there is no cure, records her meeting with Manalo, and she quotes Manalo thus: “Art and life is a mutual affair, you can’t separate it.


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Fran Callen, Heave 2019-2024, installation view, photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


Fran Callen’s Heave comprises several elements. Firstly, Conglomerate is a stretched canvas covered with illustrations of the kinds of things, including stains, that might be found on a tabletop. The illustrations are rendered in various substances, such as pencil, ball-point pen, coffee, tea, eucalyptus sap, bushfire ash, turmeric, dirt, eggshells and glitter, with contributions to the illustrations by various individuals, and the canvas is thus a physical record of events and interactions between people, presumably family and friends.


Adjacent to the canvas is Overburden, a table covered with cast plaster replicas of everyday objects including food and the artist’s painting materials. Erosion, Abrasion, Striation, is another set of plaster objects, sitting on a shelf; and, hanging adjacent to the table are two paint-skins, collectively entitled Baulk, Fault, Fold. All are finished with similar media to those covering the canvas.


Callen’s Heave thus exhibits the evidence of her daily life — as a mother, a friend, a colleague and an artist — as if there is no distinction between art and life. Jennifer Eadie’s exquisite poem, in response to Callen’s work, is entitled do not give in– but give-over, and includes the following lines:

and here, on this kitchen table

her history is held in these drawings:

this then is an archaeological dig.


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Neoterica, installation view of south gallery: Eleanor Alice, Dig deep, bury, find, discover and recover, 2024; Riza Manalo, Homage to the Unknown, 2023-4; Fran Callen, Heave, Conglomerate, 2019-2024, Overburden, 2024, Erosion, Abrasion, Striation, 2024, Baulk, Fault, Fold, 2024; Makeda Duong, Bipolar Guru, 2023. Photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


At the launch of the exhibition, the gallery overflowed with enthusiastic audience members and a long queue of people waited to enter, demonstrating the high level of public interest in contemporary and experimental art.


Neoterica demonstrates the breadth and strength of contemporary visual art practice in SA and provides a valuable opportunity for SA artists and writers. Its positioning in the Adelaide Railway station makes it easily accessible, bringing cutting edge art practice to the broad public. And the gallery space, which is made available through Renewal SA, has become a valuable element of Adelaide’s visual arts infrastructure. This is an excellent and most important exhibition.


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Neoterica, installation view of north gallery: Cassie Thring, Untitled, 2024; Jenn Brazier, Reverence, 2024; Matthew Huppatz, Money for Painting, 2024; Sue Ninham, Code Orange 2024, Sam Howie, Landscape with Figures 16, 2023; Simone Kennedy, 1. Seed, (a natural brain), 2024, 2. Totem, (a chicken brain), 2024, 3. Fly, (a naked brain), 2024. Photo Sam Roberts @samrophoto


Artists: Eleanor Alice, Jenn Brazier, Fran Callen, Makeda Duong, Deirdre Feeney, Keith Giles, Gail Hocking, Sam Howie, Matt Huppatz, Simone Kennedy, Bernadette Klavins, Kate Kurucz, Tristan Louth-Robins, Riza Manalo, Sue Ninham, Sonja Porcaro, Jess Taylor, Cassie Thring, Sarah Tickle, Raymond Zada


Writers: Lilla Berry, Quentin Brown, Nic Brown, Nicole Clift, Melanie Cooper, Jennifer Eadie, Piri Eddy, Caitlin Eyre, Maire Falcinella, Paul Gazzola, Sasha Grbich, Tegan Hale, Alysha Herrmann, Denise Nolasco, Anisha Pillarisetty, Meg Riley, Eleanor Scicchitano, Kathie Stove, Ash Tower, Aushaf Widisto


Artists’ talks: 16 March, 2.00 pm

Writers’ talks: 23 March, 2.00 pm

Finisage and Performances, 14 April: 2.00 pm


Chris ReidNeoterica Adelaide Festival 2024


When: 1 Mar to 14 Apr

Where: Northeastern Concourse, Adelaide Railway Station

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