The Art Gallery of South Australia today announced the line-up of 24 artists and writers for the Adelaide Biennial, to run from March 1 to June 2, 2024, as part of the Adelaide Festival.

Curated by José Da Silva, with the theme Inner Sanctum, it will include a series of exhibitions, performances, talks and a newly commissioned work with the Adelaide Chamber Singers.

Da Silva, the curator and director of UNSW Galleries in Sydney, told InReview the program’s theme was a response to the pandemic lockdowns and isolation – an exhibition that offers a reflective and hopeful expression of the world.

“I was inspired by our collective experiences of lockdown and restriction,” he says.

While people became reacquainted with their homes as places of sanctuary, other spaces – like a public park that, pre-pandemic, we might have walked past every day with little regard – became sites of connection and much more meaning, De Silva explains.

“I was thinking about spaces that make us feel safe and comfortable but there are always things in our histories and experiences that are challenging. Those are the things that make us seek out comfort: you can’t have one without the other, right?”

Da Silva’s vision also includes a wide scope of art – music, spoken word and visual art.

“I was interested in including creatives from a number of disciplines to simply broaden out our expectations of what we might see in the art museum,” he says, adding that he also wanted to include all sorts of practices that enrich human experience, including music and poetry.

Among the intergenerational collection of 24 contributors is the esteemed South Australian poet Kate Llewellyn, who has written a new poem in response to Da Silva’s theme, entitled “Refuge”. The Adelaide Chamber Singers are adapting the poem for their ensemble, so biennial visitors will be able to read Llewellyn’s poem and hear it performed by the choir.

Another contributor announced today, Jazz Money, a poet and artist of Wiradjuri and Irish heritage, is producing an installation based on her poetry which, with the support of the City of Adelaide, will be a piece of public art. People will be able to discover the David Unaipon Award winner’s poetry as they move around the city.

Another piece that will broaden the concept of “art in a museum” is the work of Queensland sound artist Lawrence English, who Da Silva says believes listening can transform a sense of place.

English, who is interested in the history of Adelaide’s many public bells, is creating what he calls a “sounding of the city”, which will incorporate bells in historic buildings, but also include the creation of a new bell by master bell-maker Anton Hasell, which will become a gift to the city.

It promises to be an encompassing exploration of places of sanctuary and refuge.

“People might raise an eyebrow when they see someone like Kate Llewellyn in a show like this,” Da Silva says.

“[But] I think what she has to say about the world is important and is important to the way we think about art and culture.”

Heather B Swann’s Place for Sea Dreamers. Photo supplied by AGSA

Da Silva realises his programmed artists might not all be recognisable names, but he believes the exhibition will be highly rewarding for people willing to give it time and attention.

“It’s going to be a real gift to the city,” he says.

The programmed artists include South Australian poets Ali Cobby Eckermann and Kate Llewellyn, the latter with the Adelaide Chamber Singers, glass artist Jessica Loughlin, and painter George Cooley.

Other artists and poets confirmed for the exhibition are: Clara Adolphs (NSW), James Barth (Qld), Christopher Bassi (Qld), Seth Birchall (NSW), Kaye Brown (NT), Jacobus Capone (WA), Lawrence English (Qld), Ruha Fifita (Qld), Teelah George (Vic), Paul Knight (Germany), Peter Maloney (ACT), Jazz Money (NSW), Lillian O’Neil (Vic), Nik Pantazopoulos (Vic), Khaled Sabsabi (NSW), Marikit Santiago (NSW), Vivienne Shark LeWitt (Vic), Tina Stefanou (Vic), Heather B Swann (Tas), and Jasmin Togo-Brisby (Qld).

AGSA director Rhana Devenport says “now, more than ever, people are seeking places of refuge and sanctuary”.

“We invite you to take the time to visit next year to explore this thoughtful and timely exhibition and find your inner sanctum,” she says.

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