Moved to tears

How lucky we were, those of us who had the magical experience of Jane’s Footprints on that evening in early June.

Sue Carson, as Jane Lashmar, along with Les Montanjees, Scott McDonald, Doug Gray and Michael Stove held the audience entranced for 70 minutes as they told us about Jane’s short life and death on Kangaroo Island, in song, poetry and story.

And they were greeted with a standing ovation from the audience. Lashmar family members were wiping tears from their eyes (and so were a few others, myself included).

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Sue Carson sings Jane Lashmar with the backing of (l-r) Doug Gray, Scott McDonald, Michael Stove (hidden) and Les Montanjees

It was Kangaroo Island at its best and the best performance I’ve seen on the island, by far.

Yes, it was a project that Les and I have worked on for 18 months so clearly I am biased. But, every single audience member was thrilled at what they had witnessed. Bloody wonderful.

And then we had a beautiful tasty settler supper prepared by the wonderful Chapman River Cellar Door people, Helen and Penny in the kitchen and hosts Bruce and Diana Keir.

We are polishing up the recording and releasing it in a couple of weeks. If you are interested in buying a copy, please let me know in the comments box.

Sue Carson sings Jane Lashmar

Jane’s Footprints is just nine days away. I hope you can make it to Kangaroo Island for what is destined to be a wonderful evening. Just have a listen to this:
Sue Carson sings, A long way to come

And if you can’t join us, please book your recording of the entire performance by pledging on Pozible – only 4 days to go. Our local musicians could really do with your support.

Country Arts SA visits Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island served up quite a helping of visual artists when Eleanor Scicchitano, Visual Arts Coordinator and Craig Harrison, Manager Artform Development, of Country Arts SA visited recently.

Rosemary Whitehead, with her fabric work exhibiting at Chapman River Cellar Door until 13 April.
Rosemary Whitehead, with her fabric work exhibiting at Chapman River Cellar Door until 13 April.

It was quite a whip-round – 30 artists and their works, galleries with the works of many more, and almost 400 kilometres covered in two days. And I got to go with them.

I’ve written about and supported the artists and arts of Kangaroo Island for about 10 years, and I compiled the list of artists to visit.

I thought I knew quite a lot about these artists but now I’ve learned so much more. What a fine range of artists – working in so many media, with so many styles – we have as part of our tiny population of 4500.

So what stood out? A couple of things:

Craig and Eleanor from Country Arts SA at Shep's workspace
Craig and Eleanor from Country Arts SA at Shep’s workspace

But there was so much more. I’m sorry I can’t mention them all. Come visit Kangaroo Island to see for yourself.

Art in nature

The natural world of Kangaroo Island seems to attract and inspire artists and they are complementing nature with outdoor art on display from west to east across the island.

The Platypus Holes Walk at Flinders Chase is a work of art in many ways. Head out from the visitor centre and café, cruise past the megafauna and venture into the lush vegetation regenerating from the fires of December 2007. The information panels are informative and interesting, and complemented by photographs and by intricate illustrations by local artist Nicholas Burness Pike.

Entry to a toilet at Stokes Bay
Entry to a toilet at Stokes Bay

Not quite outdoors is the coastal birdlife mural in the Stokes Bay toilets (men’s and women’s). This project by local artists Lara Tilbrook and Gay De Mather was funded by a Caring for our Country grant in a project designed to draw attention to the plight of beach nesting birds and the threats to them.

At Parndana, the ‘Heartland’ of the island, the entrance statements to the town, are works of art, in the stonework of Thomas Appleby and in the flora and fauna illustrations.

The Town Centres project that helped erect those structures has also left its mark at Kingscote, American River and Penneshaw. Deb Sleeman’s strong statements in wood and metal, with stonework by Thomas Appleby, mark the outer and inner entrances to the island’s main town, Kingscote.

Once in Kingscote, the brightest point is Deb Sleeman’s sculpture for 175th anniversary of South Australian settlement on the corner of Dauncey and Commercial streets.

Dave Clarke's Pelican at American River Wharf
Dave Clarke’s Pelican at American River Wharf

The entry statements and wharf seat with sentinel pelican at American River are the work of sculptor Dave Clarke. At Penneshaw, Dave’s limestone walls feature from the school near the entrance to the walls at the caravan park. His Glossy Black-cockatoos at the school and bronze eagle at the oval add life and colour

On the way to Penneshaw call in to Pennington Bay, where the signs on the vegetation, animal life and geology of the area were brought into being by Eco-action, and local artists and school students.

Artists Jenny Clapson, Nicholas Burness Pike and Maggie Welz with a Pennington Bay sign
Artists Jenny Clapson, Nicholas Burness Pike and Maggie Welz with a Pennington Bay sign
Deb Sleeman's Mary Beckwith memorial with Dave Clarke's Nicholas Baudin memorial in the background
Deb Sleeman’s Mary Beckwith memorial with Dave Clarke’s Nicholas Baudin memorial in the background

Next stop is Baudin Beach where Deb Sleeman (Mary Beckwith memorial) and Dave Clarke (Nicholas Baudin memorial) have been working at their creative best down near the wharf. And the octopus’s garden outside the Artwork Gallery is also Dave’s work.

The journey along Cape Willoughby Road is softened by places for rest and refreshment, which also hold vibrant art, and at Chapman River Cellar Door you are greeted by a Deb Sleeman dress opposite the carpark, which complements the indoor décor.

Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying nature and art, and having a restful holiday season. See you in the new year.