From top: Images from the Immersion exhibition.
Immersion: Fleurieu, Strand Gallery in Port Elliot, South Australia, until 9 June
Reviewer: Christobel Kelly
The Fleurieu Peninsula has long been a magnet for artists. From the cultural layers that blanket reciprocal enactments of ‘country’ by its Aboriginal inhabitants, through to the wide-eyed images created by early French explorers, to the exquisite tethering of colour by 20th century artists such as Kathleen Sauerbier and Horace Trenerry, this is a space that is dense with artistic response.
So too, the current exhibition Immersion: Fleurieu, at the Strand Gallery, sits firmly within an artistic convention whereby, in order to respond to the landscape, one has to be absorbed and entangled by it. A longitudinal project by the printmaking collective The Ruddy Turnstones has seen this group come together in various iterations to work en plein air towards a number of exhibitions including the present one, which is open every weekend until the end of June.
From the shifting theatre of shore life to the intersecting areas between conservation and rural land use, the work of Loique Allain, Michele Lane, Lorelei Medcalf, Georgina Willoughby and Mei Sheong Wong teases out the relational juncture the artists have with this geographic area. Within the artworks, one can certainly sense the surety of individual responses to a place that elicits deep connections, as well as the subtle references to the group itself as a living system.
For the viewer, it is the delicate interplay between individual responses to connectivity and the commitment to embedding the group in areas such as Deep Creek, The Bluff at Victor Harbor, Sellicks Beach and so on, which makes this exhibition so intriguing. These are areas that many of us are familiar with, and have been created afresh with each graphic rendering from these contemporary placemakers.