Visitors flock to Frida & Diego

The Art Gallery of South Australia is extending its opening hours over the coming week to cater for an expected increase in visitors in the final days of Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution ­– its strongest-performing single exhibition since COVID began.

AGSA announced today that the ticketed exhibition, which closes on September 17, has already achieved its box-office target of $1.2 million, with a quarter of all visitors coming from interstate and overseas.

Frida & Diego is said to be the largest display of Mexican modernism seen in Australia. Drawing on the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection and presented in a vibrant exhibition space designed by Grieve Gillett Architects, it transports visitors into the world of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. The more than 150 works include self-portraits by Kahlo and large-scale reproductions of Rivera’s murals, alongside paintings and photographs by their friends and contemporaries.

“For the exhibition to already have surpassed visitation for any single exhibition post-COVID at AGSA demonstrates the public’s hunger for the arts and for Frida Kahlo as a 21st-century muse who continues to be revered as a feminist and a singular political and creative force,” says AGSA director Rhana Devenport.

AGSA’s extended hours will see it open at 9am from September 11 to 17, with a later closing time of 7pm on September 8, 15 and 16. Read this InReview story to see some of curator Tansy Curtin’s favourite works in Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution.

Literary fellowships launched

A new fellowship program aimed at supporting professional writers living in South Australia will offer “a timely and urgent boost to the development of local literature”, says Writers SA CEO

Jessica Alice and Geoff Strempel. Photo: Sia Duff / supplied

Jessica Alice.

Writers SA has teamed up with the State Library of South Australia to deliver the program, which will offer five annual creative writing fellowships: three $10,000 fellowships (two for mid-career writers and one for a First Nations writer) and two $3000 fellowships for emerging writers.

“Australian authors earn an average yearly income of only $18,200, and those in South Australia are far from many east coast opportunities,” Alice says. “This new initiative represents an ambitious state that is serious about nurturing local authors.”

In addition to the cash prize, recipients will receive up to three months’ residency with a desk at the State Library, with library director Geoff Strempel saying the program encourages “the original and imaginative use of the library’s diverse collections for new literature”. Writers SA will also offer an introduction to a network of literary agents and publishers.

Applications for the fellowships program can be made here before the deadline of October 20.

Natural wonders

Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans’ 2022 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize winning work Bioregional Rings (Central Coast).

Entries have opened for the 2024 Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, with a cash prize of $30,000 on offer for the winner of the open category and $10,000 for the best work by an emerging artist.

The biennial prize is presented by the South Australian Museum, which will show the work of winners and finalists in an exhibition in April next year.

“The Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize is an exciting opportunity for artists and audiences alike to explore the convergence between art and science, whatever their medium, experience or place in the world,” says South Australian Museum director Dr David Gaimster.

South Australian artists Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans won the top prize in 2022 with a collection of rings showcasing foraged materials such as sandstone, coal, driftwood, pumice stone and sea sponge. Entries for the 2024 competition are open until December 4, with details available here.

The art of healing

Prize winner Deborah Prior with Dr Joe Verco and Paul Flynn. Photo: Sam Roberts / supplied

Deborah Prior has won the $40,000 main prize in The Hospital Research Foundation Group Creative Health Art Prize for a textile work representing her experiences of chronic pain.

Artists were asked to respond to the theme of “healing”, with judge Lisa Slade describing Prior’s piece as moving and sophisticated.

“Conceptually, the work delivers so much,” Slade said. “The forms themselves are compelling. They are vessels, they are anatomical… they add layers and layers of resonance.”

Other prize winners were Jingwei Bu ($5000 Emerging Artist Prize), Karel Locher ($5000 Veteran and Emergency First Responder Prize) and Ray Harris ($1000 commendation in the main prize category). The works of the 27 finalists are on show in an exhibition at Light Square Gallery until September 22, with all pieces for sale.

Haunting portrait

The Story of Us (Portrait of Moz), by Sid Pattni.

Indian-Australian artist Sid Pattni’s portrait of a Kurdish refugee detained on Manus Island for more than six years has won the 2023 Kennedy Prize.

The prize, based in Adelaide but open to artists across Australia, is awarded annually and offers $25,000 in prize money.

Judges said Pattni’s “haunting portrait” of Mostafa “Moz” Azimitabar, titled The Story of Us (Portrait of Moz), spoke to them with Moz’s arresting gaze: “Overlaid with rhythmical stitching that evokes a sense of time marked and endured, confinement and restriction, it illustrates so beautifully liberties denied.”

SA photographer Margaret Ambridge won the $5000 inaugural Nyland Photography Award for her portrait, ALICE.

The work of all 50 finalists is on display at the Kennedy Prize Exhibition in the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts at the State Library until September 17.

And more winners…

SALA also announced its 2023 award winners as the annual festival came to a close last weekend, with Kaspar Schmidt Mumm taking home the $7000 City of Adelaide Incubator Award for Rockamora ­– a large interactive puppet exhibited at Adelaide Contemporary Experimental.

Other winners included Susan Bruce (Contemporary Art Award), Marian Sandberg (Digital Media Award), Stephanie Doddridge (Emerging Artist Award), Kartina Linn (Active Aging Award), and Tyson Jay Brant (The Don Dunstan Foundation Award). See  the full list of winners here.

Julia Robinson has been announced as the featured artist for SALA in 2024.

Green Room is a regular column for InReview, providing quick news for people interested, or involved, in South Australian arts and culture.

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