Saving Our Gulf

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia

About 60 people attended the opening of The Save Our Gulf Coalition 2013 Exhibition at the Arts Centre at Port Noarlunga on Friday evening. (That’s Gulf St Vincent between the Fleurieu and York Peninsulas in South Australia). It was not the usual opening. After doing the visual and social rounds balancing large and luscious slices of bend-y pizza, we gathered in the theatre for two presentations.

The first was by Chris Warren, former TV journalist who showed some of his documentary “Chasing the surf” on the history of surfing in South Australia. It was a pleasure to see swell, pipelines and cutbacks without endless guitar music. It was also a revelation to see the size of our waves, many from the breaks at the legendary Cactus breaks on the edge of Great Australian Bight.

The second presentation was by Ian Dyson, Coastal and Environmental Geologist who presented graphic evidence of coastline degradation. One of his images was a photograph of extensive sand dunes of Brighton in the 1860s. The main message was that our coastline is affected by lots of controllable factors including stormwater effluent, brine and chemical discharge, dredging, building on the dunes. And that people in power aren’t really getting it. Sound familiar?

The works included paintings, prints, photography, jewellery and ceramics and ranged from strident statement to lyrical beauty.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Daryl Bullen, Untitled. Acrylic on canvas.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Kay Cunningham, Leafy Sea Dragon. Watercolour.

The exhibition was non-juried and on delivery day it was difficult to imagine how such a diverse range of styles and skill could create a unified whole. The magic did happen, of course not by accident.

Although my record of these works is not ideal here are some images from the show. Rendering water is all about light (just like any landscape), so the most successful works for me were those that dealt well with the elusive.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Ashley Lithgow, Ripples of Time. Photograph.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Äustralia
David Woolaway, Ghostly Shadows. Photograph.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Wendy Rushby, Pelican. Print (unique edition). Nothing elusive about this pelican  but the work was interesting for its ‘rusted’ paper, achieved with sunlight on a mixture of caustic soda, iron oxide and tea.

Cathi Steer, Rocks at Hallett Cove
Cathi Steer, Rocks at Hallett Cove. Pastel. Steer is a
master of this (and many other media). These are the rocks I grappled with several weeks ago – nice to see them under control!

Chris Braham, Portrait of King George
Chris Braham, Portrait of King George. Oil on canvas. Braham demonstrates the beauty of her subject in a photo-realistic ‘portrait’. The model was fresh from a Port Adelaide fishmonger. Word was that he required no coffee breaks or time out during modelling.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Jane Heron-Kirkmoe, Ghost Fish. Hessian, acrylic paint on perspex. Heron-Kirkmoe is primarily a sculptor. It is well worth a visit to her website!

Julie Moller, Southern Gulf Pipefish - too precious to lose
Julie Moller, Southern Gulf Pipefish – Too Precious to Lose. Acrylic on canvas. Many leafy sea dragons appeared in this show, but only one pipefish, unfortunately, also endangered.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Peter Thompson, Tugboat. Pen, ink & gouache.

Robert Miller, Don't Waste It.
Robert Miller, Don’t Waste It. Digital print on canvas.

Louise Johnston, The Sea Feast
Louise Johnston, The Sea Feast. Watercolour and pencil. Johnston’s style of notation on the mount suited this themed exhibition well. Not too intrusive on such beautifully rendered shell-fish.

Marie Jonsson-Harrison, Holdfast at Holdfast
Marie Jonsson-Harrison, Holdfast at Holdfast. Acrylic on canvas. This joyful painting is characteristic of Jonsson-Harrison’s work. Unfortunately the work was hung high on the wall and my photograph does not do it justice. You can see it is in the naive tradition. Visit the website for a really colourful experience!

The exhibition organizer Corrie Vanderhoek stated that the exhibition was conceived as an alternative to marches and vigils, deputations and sit-ins. It was an opportunity for artists to communicate the message of protest from the heart.

In this light, my choice of the “best in show” was the painting by Susanne P Morizzi. It was at once a moving statement and a lyrical piece of painting.

Philippa Robert, Adelaide South Australia
Susanne P Morizzi, Innocent Victims. Oil and oil pastels on canvas.

And yes, I did have a painting in the show. It shows in the first photograph of this post, top left corner.

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15 thoughts on “Saving Our Gulf

  1. Fabulous overview, Philippa, of an exhibition I would’ve loved to see! You featured so many lovely pieces, and I loved all the specific info you’ve given us. Your piece in the top pic looks beautiful – you should tell us more about that one too…(if not already elsewhere!) I love seeing such a variety of media in one show, expressing the artists’ varied ideologies about a sensitive subject.

  2. What a tease! Why not feature your own painting along with the others?
    The title of your blog and the exhibition led me on a futile search for the identity of the Gulf you are trying to save. But I learned some stuff about Hallett Cove, Adelaide and South Australia. Sounds like you are lucky to live there!

    1. Yes, awful I know. Sorry about the patchy information Aline. It is Gulf St Vincent, locally known as St Vincent’s Gulf! It lies between the Fleurieu Peninsula where Adelaide sits and York Peninsula. Our next gulf westward, Spencer Gulf has problems too, in its northern extremity. Breeding grounds of of the giant cuttlefish, threatened by a desal plant and more.

  3. Yes Philippa – this does sound familiar – happening all over the world. Amazing work – thanks for the share, but would have loved to see your own entry…

  4. Thanks Philippa for capturing the spirit of the exhibition and reporting so thoughtfully on some of the lovely pieces. It was remarkable to see the transformation of the space from the day we dropped off our paintings to the opening night. It was a tribute to those who had sympathetically and aesthetically arranged this interesting collection of art works to create a rather beautiful experience.

  5. Hi Philippa, Thank you very much for your kind words and the link to my website, very much appreciated. I thought the exhibition looked fantastic and loved the way it was hung – the way the colors of the different artworks all integrated was fantastic as was the underlying message of course. Found the talks, films and photos very interesting too on the opening night. Big credit to Corrie and Maxine and their team. Happy to find your blog too Philippa and look forward to revisiting it. I write a blog as well and here is a link to last years exhibition for Saving the Gulf – with a bit more about the organization and the desal plant for anyone that is interested in that. http://www.mariejonssonharrison.com.au/new/index.php/2012/03/125-gallery-m-and-salt/ Love Marie xxx

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