North Eastern Concourse, Adelaide Railway Station

In 2022, Neoteric was a highlight among the visual arts events featured in the Adelaide Festival program. Housed at the historic Adelaide Railway Station, the exhibition paired visual artists with writers to celebrate the creative landscape of South Australia. Now, two years later, the latest iteration of the exhibition, Neoterica, promises to inspire and fascinate audiences once again.

Featuring an impressive line-up of 20 mid-career South Australian artists, and 20 writers invited to respond to their work, Neoterica has allowed the exhibitors to create new works and push the boundaries of their practice. Created by artists for artists, the project has been led by Ray Harris as curator and producer, along with Adele Sliuzas (writer coordinator), Sandy Cenin (exhibition manager), Cynthia Schwertsik (public programming) and Anna Goodhind (installation manager).

“It is an extremely valuable project for the Adelaide arts community, audiences and creatives,” says Harris.

“We have a lot of talent here and this project supports it, as I hope many more projects will also. The more engaged we are as an arts city, the better.”

The artists have worked in a diverse range of media, including photography, painting, sculpture, printmaking, installation, sound, video, ceramics and mixed media.

Some artists, such as Eleanor Alice, explore multiple styles in their work. Her installation – Dig deep, bury, find, discover and recover – comprises a large-scale painting and several ceramic pieces. Through her practice, Alice draws on past experiences and explores contrasts such as the real versus imagined and chaos versus control. Her landscapes are surreal and could represent the sea or an imaginary world. In this instance, the shapes and forms have extended beyond the painting and onto the plinths, pushing the boundaries of painting beyond being a two-dimensional realm.

Neoterica installation view showing works by Gail Hocking: Through a looking Glass Darkly A; Through a looking Glass Darkly B; An Uncomfortable Ache; Underbelly; A Heaviness Between. Photo: Sam Roberts

Gail Hocking, a multi-disciplinary artist from Aotearoa (New Zealand), has also created an immersive presentation. Hocking grew up near the Glacier ka Roimata Hine Hukatere (Franz Josef Glacier), which ignited her passion for environmental issues. She is particularly concerned with the receding glaciers and the loss of knowledge from these ancient timekeepers.

Hocking’s presentation includes a video work, Through the Looking Glass A and B, and a series of sculptures that hang on the wall. The sculptures are her internal responses to the loss, and they could be interpreted as limbs, arteries or melting ice, with human and non-human forms blending into one. Interestingly, this is the first time the artist has used resin, and she has done so to create the look of flesh.

Installation view including Sarah Tickle’s Storm Center; Bernadette Klavins’ Study of a memory, and Jess Taylor’s Year Zero. Photo: Sam Roberts

Bernadette Klavins’ installation, Study of a Memory, is a highlight. The work is inspired by her grandfather, Juris Klavins, who migrated from Latvia to Australia. In Latvian Folklore, the oak tree is a symbol of masculinity and Juris planted two oak trees in the front yard of his home in Adelaide. Featuring oak leaves made from resin which are suspended from the ceiling, the installation captures the essence of golden sunlight shining through the leafy canopies of the trees. This evokes memories of Bernadette’s childhood and visiting Juris on sunny Sunday afternoons.

Accompanying the oak leaves is a suitcase filled with dirt and lined with wallpaper from the family home, symbolising the feeling of displacement and living between two worlds. A letter (translated) to Juris from his sister in Latvia is presented on a resin cast of oak-tree bark. Through these works, Klavins explores her family heritage, our connection to home, and how earthly matter can connect people such as Juris to their home country.

Interestingly, another artist of note, Deidre Feeney, has also used resin in her work. Feeney’s practice combines art, science and technology, and explores how we perceive depth of field in materially generated images. Many of the images we observe in our day-to-day lives are mediated by some form of optical technology. Feeney is particularly interested in how light passes through 3D-printed resin objects. In Hallway, she creates a fascinating series of moving images against the wall, illuminating a hallway with a receding staircase.

In addition to the artists mentioned above, there are also impressive offerings by the other exhibiting artists, including Jenn Brazier, Fran Callen, Makeda Duong, Keith Giles, Sam Howie, Matt Huppatz, Simone Kennedy, Kate Kurucz, Tristan Louth-Robins, Riza Manalo, Sue Ninham, Sonja Porcaro, Jess Taylor, Cassie Thring, Sarah Tickle and Raymond Zada.

Keith Giles’ Immortelle – a self portrait I-III and Cassie Thring’s Untitled. Photo: Sam Roberts

A printed catalogue accompanying Neoterica includes the responses of the 20 South Australian writers, with the work documented by photographer Sam Roberts. There is also a program of artist talks, writers’ talks and performances providing local creatives an opportunity to develop, exhibit and publish their work.

Now in its second year, this exhibition is positioning itself as an important inclusion on the Adelaide Festival calendar. Hopefully, it will become a regular biennial feature and we will see exhibitions with a similar ethos in the future. While the exhibition is vital in supporting the visual arts, it also shines a light on other creative areas and celebrates the collective imagination.

Neoterica installation view including works by Jenn Brazier, Sue Ninham, Sam Howie, Matthew Huppatz and Kate Kurucz. Photo: Sam Roberts

Neoterica is showing at the North Eastern Concourse at Adelaide Railway Station until April 14. Details of the artist talks and other exhibition events can be found here.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Festival coverage here.

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