Adelaide Festival Review: Neoterica

FIFTY+SA Arts reviewer, David Jobling, shares his thoughts on Neoterica, an exhibition bringing together new works from 20 mid-career artists in South Australia, for Adelaide Festival.

This is probably the most physically accessible exhibition in this year’s Adelaide Festival. Situated at the Adelaide Railway Station in the North Eastern Concourse Neoterica boasts two galleries, one North, one South. The works appearing in the exhibition are all by South Australian artists who are considered to be in the middle of their career. This means they are no longer emerging artists because they have practiced their work for some significant time and are expected to continue to do so.

This means the various art forms represented have not only been forged by creatives who have honed their skills over time, but that they represent a type of overview of the visual art that is being made in South Australia at this time. The exhibition is rich with personality, curiosity, insight and finesse.

It is important for all of us, not just the artists, to take some time out to look at art because it gives us something to reflect upon and think about. Art can be very stimulating for the mind and help us make sense of the world. This particular exhibition provides significant food for thought because these artists are local and if we collectively know one thing it is that local expressions of creativity can be hard to find assembled in one place. In times long gone there were outdoor exhibitions of paintings along North Terrace in Adelaide and our pride in local artists was evident all through the year but times have changed over the decades.

As our mainstream news services have become more globalised and stripped back for economic reasons the interest and engagement in locally produced arts events has been brutally decimated. The many venues that housed locally produced performing arts activities have dwindled considerably and so too have the exhibitions of local visual arts that adorned the foyers of those venues.

Ironic really that the relatively small group of people who put together the original Focus Fringe Festival back in the 1970s opened its doors to artists from around the world in our Bicentennial year which led to the clone of the Edinburgh Fringe we regularly host now and pour millions of dollars into. We are told this is progress because it puts Adelaide on the map as a tourist destination, but in the meantime Adelaide’s artists and creatives are sidelined, venues that would be available to them have been destroyed leaving them under-resourced and basically marginalised in their own home.

Photo: Sam Roberts, L-R Sarah Tickle, Storm Center, 2024. Bernadette Klavins, Study of a memory, 2024. Jess Taylor, Year Zero, 2024, Ramond Zada, Gone, 2024. Fran Callen, Heave, Conglomerate, 2019-2024, Riza Manalo, Homage to the Unknown, 2023-4

It’s a really big deal that we have Neoterica because it is a rare thing to have an exhibition like this focused on South Australian artists hosted by our international Adelaide Festival.

I’m not saying it isn’t important to have a broad view of the arts, but I am saying it is high time our government focused on the local talent and supported it through events such as this. Just imagine if a South Australian Premier put the value of art on the same level as the value of sport for a change.

The content of Neoterica is local but the themes emerging from it are not restricted to South Australia, they are clearly universal and deeply personal. In some cases the product of an artist’s inspiration and process transforms horrible experiences into visually attractive objects which may be unpicked to reveal at their core a desire to heal a lifelong wound or motivate change towards a better world.

These artists assembled together in one exhibition are predominantly women and many of them cite their work as feminist, nothing to be afraid of, it speaks the universal language all art does and invites rather than interrogates the viewer. You are at liberty to feel whatever you may.

My particular favourite piece may be your least favourite, and that is also fine because art is completely subjective to the viewer. You may not be inspired by or attracted to any of the work here but you should attend, to enliven your experience and support the whole notion of South Australian artists being valuable and valued by their community. It is a free exhibition, very easy to find and full of a variety of works that are engaging, accomplished and relevant. Some of the pieces are quirky, some will make you feel differently and all will leave an impression that may last longer than you’d first expect. I hope we see more of this, it is refreshing and replenishing on many many levels.

Neoterica is curated by Ray Harris

The exhibiting artists are Eleanor Alice, Jenn Brazier, Fran Callen, Makeda Duong, Deirdre Feeney, Keith Giles, Gail Hocking, Sam Howie, Matt Huppatz, Simone Kennedy, Bernadette Klavins, Kate Kurucz, Tristan Louth-Robins, Riza Manalo, Sue Ninham, Sonja Porcaro, Jess Taylor, Cassie Thring, Sarah Tickle and Raymond Zada.

Included in the Neoterica program are public events:

Artist talks – Saturday 16th of March, 2pm
Writers talks – Saturday 23rd of March, 2pm
Finisage and Performances – Sunday 14th of April, 2pm


until Sunday 14th of April

North Eastern Concourse, Adelaide Railway Station

Hero photo credit: Sam Roberts, L-R Sue Ninham, Code Orange2203-2024. Sam Howie, Landscape with Figures 16, 2023. Matthew Huppatz, Money for Painting, 2024. Kate Kurucz, Constructive Criticism, Peer Review, T.G.I.F, 2024, Keith Giles, Immortelle – a self portrait I-III, 1967-2024

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