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Arts & Culture

SA’s regional Aboriginal artists on show in Saltbush Country

Arts & Culture

Presented by Country Arts SA in partnership with Tarnanthi, the exhibition profiles contemporary Aboriginal artists from regional South Australia.

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Saltbush Country is a new exhibition which opened in Port Pirie ahead of an Adelaide showing with the Tarnanthi Festival next week.

Tarnanthi Regional Curator and Wangkanurru woman Marika Davies said the name Saltbush Country reflects the artists’ resilience.

“I thought about the saltbush, how it can be really resilient in our environment nationwide, basically, because you can find it in arid country as well as on coastal areas of Australia,” Davies told InDaily.

“I just thought about our artists in the region as well.

“If they were given the opportunity, working in an exhibition like this, they can actually grow with their work and it’s just like the saltbush itself, in the right conditions, it can really flourish.”

Davies first took on the role of curating Saltbush Country in late 2022, with most of the artists joining at the beginning of 2023.

She said the public can expect “seven amazing women from our regions and their practice, their stories, their connection to culture, language, and where they live.”

“These stories are very rich. They’re very truth-telling about our culture as well as for people in general.”

The artworks utilise weaving, painting, textiles and fibre work, sculpture, large-scale installation, and jewellery.

“First Nations people and Torres Strait Islanders we’re working in fashion and our art is not just a pretty canvas on the wall now,” Davies said.

“This is wearable art with the fashion designers, so it’s so crucial but it’s still telling our story.”

Davies travelled across the state to connect with and learn more about the artists in preparation for the exhibition.

“For myself, I was able to see the environment that they live in as well,” she said

“So, I was able to connect with them in that sense as well, being on their Country and listening to them talk about their works.”

Davies also said Saltbush Country is unique in showcasing all-regional artists.

“Some of these people are Traditional Owners, so you’re getting that first-hand knowledge about their Country,” she said.

“You can’t beat that, once you hear stories from Traditional Owners being on their Country at the same time. It’s an amazing feeling, a spiritual feeling as well.”

Tarnanthi Artistic Director, Barkandji curator, Nici Cumpston OAM is also excited to showcase artists from across the regions.

“We are thrilled to be supporting Marika Davies and regional artists through the development of Saltbush Country,” Cumpston said.

“The artists have been given the opportunity to work alongside Marika to identify how they can develop their practice to create new work for the exhibition.

“Some have chosen mentorships with other artists, while others have undertaken independent research. The resultant works are ambitious and show exciting new directions for all the artists involved.”

Saltbush Country will open in the Hawke Centre’s Kerry Packer Civic Gallery in Adelaide on November 16 and will display until March 22, 2024.

Learn more about the artists and Saltbush Country here.

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