Heartland at Art Gallery of South Australia

Adelaide is ablaze with art for the South Australian Living Artists Festival or, as is inevitably our abbreviated way, SALA.

There’s much to see and much of it is good. But to see the best go to the Art Gallery of South Australia for the (free) exhibition of regional South Australian art, Heartland. Here is what exhibitions are all about.

Here is an exhibition to move, amuse, reverberate, revitalise and amaze. Here is curation at its most incisive and supportive.

Here are Hossein and Angela Valamanesh, superb artists, mesmerising, enlightening, amusing and surprising. Familiar yet different.

Here are many lesser known artists not being outdone. Being given their rightful place in our venerable (fabulous) state institution for art.

Nothing is out of place, overshadowed, ill fitting. Everything shines.

But, we have favourites. For me, Kate Breakey exposing places that mean so much to me. A single wave in our vast southern ocean, the desert country beyond Port Augusta where I spent many a student day and, most wonderful, a group of casuarinas nestled between hills at Cape Cassini, Kangaroo Island, where I live. The camera embraced the landscape in such perfect black and white composition that the tears simply ran out of my eyes. My heart swelled with, what was it … I think it must be love.

How is it that we as a nation, as a civilization, as a species, place such small value on art, on the artist? Where I live, even though it is an artist-rich community, I hear people ask why don’t artists get real jobs and stop looking for handouts?

Are pulling beers or selling advertising or playing the stock market more real jobs than being an artist?

This exhibition is reality. That the sparsely populated regions of South Australia can yield such imagination that describes reality.

That one person, unknown to me, can capture my heart with a black and white photo. I am prepared to see a thousand pieces of art that are OK if it means that one can transport me as Kate Breakey did today.

That’s a real job.


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