Review: Neoteric
North Eastern Concourse, Adelaide Railway Station

Neoteric, part of the 2022 Adelaide Festival program, is an impressive line-up of 20 mid-career South Australian artists, who have been paired with 20 writers invited to respond to their work. Housed in an incredible space in the Adelaide Railway Station, the exhibition celebrates the local visual arts scene and provides a platform for the participating artists to present new works, explore new ideas and engage with a wider audience.

Brimming with talent, Neoteric was developed by artists for artists. The exhibition is led by participating artist Ray Harris with Thom Buchanan, Sarita Burnett, Julianne Pierce and Fiona Borthwick, and has no curatorial premise; instead, the artists were encouraged to create new work and to be ambitious. The aim was to promote the resilience, strength and diversity of our local visual arts community.

Many of these artists have exhibited regularly throughout their careers, but few have gallery representation, and due to the impact of COVID there have been very few exhibition opportunities.

While there is no overarching theme to Neoteric, common ideas have emerged since the artists were brought together, most notably regarding our relationship to the environment. Take, for example, Laura Wills’ Community Tree Portrait, a project that began when Wills asked people to send images of their favourite tree as part of the 2021 Nature Festival. She then drew into these images and combined them to create a large digital tree, three tiles wide on Instagram. For Neoteric the tree has grown into a real-life form, six metres high and 2.5 metres wide. This impressive work reflects our relationship to nature and embodies the notion that we might care for it better if we understand and empathise with it.

Neoteric installation view, featuring Laura Wills’ Community Tree Portrait (pastel and pigment ink on rag paper and book pages) and works by Darren Siwes and Lara Tilbrook. Photo: Sam Roberts

Another standout is Sasha Grbich’s installation work Bat Alphabet 40º, which incorporates ceramics, sound and video. Inspired by the effects of climate change, Grbich has created handcrafted, ceramic clay objects reflecting the motionless forms of flying foxes which have died in extreme heat. The ceramic forms resemble an alphabet or script and these have been interpreted into sign language and presented as a video work.

Bat Alphabet 40º also features a sonic translation by Zoë Barry. It’s a stunning work, with Grbich managing to find beauty in destruction, presenting something that invites the audience to stop and reflect.

Sasha Grbich, Bat Alphabet 40°, 2022; installation with ceramic objects, sound and video, including sonic translation developed and recorded by Zoë Barry. Photo: Sam Roberts

Time is another common thread in the work presented in Neoteric, whether it’s an observation of time passing or artists asking the audience to take time to stop and think about the environment. The pandemic has afforded many of us more time to observe nature in our immediate surroundings and this is particularly evident in Deidre But-Husaim’s series, The Between. These beautiful paintings are the result of many months spent at home observing the changing form of Angel’s Trumpet blooms.

Neoteric installation view featuring Deidre But-Husaim’s series The Between (oil on hardboard) and (at rear) Will Nolan’s Series of 7 Portraits, 2022. Photo: Sam Roberts

Also looking at the passing of time is Honor Freeman’s work and the tide rises, the tide falls. The installation, featuring a porcelain bath and ceramic soaps and plugs, is inspired by the domestic and the everyday. Freeman’s practice often incorporates markers of life and the passing of time. Whether it be the grooves in the used bars of soap or the stained tide lines of the bathtub, the signs are there that these items have been well-used every day over a long period of time.

Neoteric installation view featuring Honor Freeman’s and the tide rises, the tide falls (porcelain, stoneware, enamel bathtub) and works by Will Nolan, Gus Clutterbuck, CJ Taylor and Brad Darkson. Photo: Sam Roberts

Heidi Kenyon has created a mushroom circle with the work We shall by morning inherit the earth, where she is growing several different species in wooden boxes. The audience is invited to enter the space, sit on the rug and listen to the fungi’s electromagnetic sequences which have been translated into a soundscape by her brother, Ben Davidson. It’s a fascinating work that provides an escape from the stresses and anxieties of our day-to-day lives and allows us an opportunity to connect with nature.

Heidi Kenyon’s We shall by morning inherit the earth (detail); installation with Pleurotus ostreatus, djamor and citrinopileatus, timber and mixed media; sound by Ben Davidson (Ben Sun). Photo: Sam Roberts

These are just some of the incredible artists whose work is featured in Neoteric, with many more for audiences to explore. The exhibition offers an insight into the state of the South Australian contemporary visual arts scene, and celebrates the diversity and talent that we have here in this state. It’s a testament to the resilience and dedication of these artists – and if this offering is anything to go, by the future is bright.

Neoteric is showing in the north eastern concourse of Adelaide Railway Station until April 10. Featured artists are Tamara Baillie, Thom Buchanan, Diedre But-Husaim, Gus Clutterbuck, Bridget Currie, Brad Darkson, Honor Freeman, Sasha Grbich, Ray Harris, Anna Horne, Heidi Kenyon, Sue Kneebone, Deborah Prior, Will Nolan, Cynthia Schwertsik with Dave Laslett, Darren Siwes, CJ Taylor, Lara Tilbrook, Henry Jock Walker, and Laura Wills.

Click here for more  2022 Adelaide Festival coverage.

 

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This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.