KI: A Curious Time brings together 17 Kangaroo Island artists for Fine Art Kangaroo Island’s first ever virtual exhibition!
A very different SALA exhibition
South Australia’s Living Artists Festival (also known as SALA) has become one of the most important events on the calendar for Fine Art Kangaroo Island.
The staging of our annual SALA exhibition traditionally brings with it the excitement of new works, established and emerging artists, long lead-times and a massive logistical effort. For more than a decade, curator Fleur Peters has been at the helm of the How Do We Love Thee? Let Us Count The Ways… series, building the annual event into one of the State’s largest and most anticipated exhibitions. But with 2020 came so many uncertainties…
First came the summer bushfire emergency, wiping out almost half of Kangaroo Island, and taking with it artists’ homes, studios and precious artworks.
The island community emerged from a forty-eight day battle for survival when all fire grounds were officially declared safe on February 6th, 2020. But as islanders faced the devastating aftermath of the fires and began to dig in for a long recovery, they could never have imagined there would be a global pandemic and even greater economic devastation to come.
For Fine Art Kangaroo Island proprietors Fred and Fleur Peters, the annual SALA exhibition seemed like a fast-dimming light at the end of a dark and winding tunnel. For Fred and Fleur, there were so many questions, but so few people with answers. How long would government restrictions keep their popular Kingscote gallery closed? Would the annual SALA Festival go ahead? Could they even find a way to stage an exhibition if it did?
Building a virtual gallery
As July approached, Fred and Fleur had already been talking to local artists about options for the much-loved August exhibition. When the SA Living Artists Inc Board announced that the 2020 SALA Festival would go ahead, Fleur was already working toward launching a virtual gallery platform for the Fine Art Kangaroo Island website.
As the idea of a virtual exhibition was floated to artists, there was a different kind of uncertainty… how real could we make it? Would our SALA exhibition audience be willing to embrace such a different experience? Would there be work to “hang” on those virtual gallery walls?
As artists began submitting entries for KI: A Curious Time, it became clear the answer to that last question would be a resounding “Yes!” From this point the challenge would be to find a way to build a virtual exhibition that would be beautiful, functional and worthy of our SALA exhibition audience.
With so many challenges and unknowns to face, expectations for the online gallery experience might have been low. But for curator Fleur Peters and her team, there was never a doubt they intended to create something that would surprise and delight exhibition goers. Fleur explains how she and her team were able to create such an engaging and beautiful virtual gallery experience.
When you take away the pressure to be marketable, you feel freer to express. And when times like this occur, when there is so much pressure and insecurity in the world, the only way you can create is with complete freedom. This exhibition is an expression of such freedom.Fleur Peters, curator
With works for the SALA Festival exhibition normally selected by a panel of art professionals, several decisions were made that would set the 2020 event apart:
– The traditional theme for the exhibition series would be paused, and a less restrictive theme chosen.
– Selections would be made by the curator alone
– There would be no requirement for works to necessarily be available for sale, or even complete.
Work is looser and uninhibited because normal criteria are lifted. This promotes freedom of expression and frees artists to perhaps do things they may not normally do. I believe this is important for the artists, more than for us as a business.Fleur Peters, curator
|Matt Nettheim, John Ayliffe, Amelia Hall, Peter Hastwell, Albert (Sonny) Joseph, Amelia Oates, Quentin Chester, Jenny Clapson, Mishka Ammann, Patti Blucher, Dave Clarke, Cecilia Gunnarsson, Sara Hourez, Fred Peters, Gay De Mather and Kenita Williamson.|
We brought together some of the artists to chat about their work before the exhibition launch on Sunday August 9th.