Saturday, 29 June 2024

Opening of Saltbush Country exhibition

I am pleased to be back in Port Lincoln and to launch the Saltbush Country exhibition, the first leg of a regional tour that will take in seven regional galleries over the next two years.

As Governor I have the privilege of travelling our regions and remote areas and learning about their contribution to the arts in South Australia.

This morning Country Arts kindly took me to see several local projects, including the Whait Reserve Stolen Generation Memorial where I met Barngarla artist Lavinia Richards, her niece Emma and grandniece Lynda, and the RSL where Gary Clough and Lee Clayton showed me Vera Richards’ powerful work.

Another memorable experience has been travelling to the APY Lands and visiting Ernabella Arts and Iwantja Arts.

It was inspiring to see indigenous female artists at work, using their considerable skill to tell their stories – stories which all Australians should hear. And it’s been great to see these striking pieces purchased by buyers around Australia and internationally.

Among the art works in the public rooms of Government House, on loan from the Art Gallery of South Australia, are a number of paintings by indigenous artists, including several women.

Depicting the artists’ connection with their country, these pieces have been positioned alongside paintings by non-indigenous Australians, creating a dynamic conversation about landscape, culture and our nation’s heritage.

Rod and I very much want Government House to be a place for all South Australians, in fact all Australians, and a place which reflects the diversity of our society and our history as home to the longest continuing culture on earth.

We are proud to display artworks by indigenous women artists, for the contemplation and enjoyment of many thousands of guests who visit the house each year.

We hope that in some modest way we may contribute to truth telling and reconciliation.


In our travels across the state, Rod and I have seen a great deal of saltbush.

It is an iconic feature of the South Australian landscape.

In coverage of ‘Saltbush Country’ online, curator Marika Davies explains how she arrived at the title for this exhibition, reflecting on the resilience of both the plant and of indigenous women artists in our regions.[1]

In the right conditions, they can both really flourish.

I thank Marika for curating the work of these artists and for providing a means through which they can express themselves, share cultural knowledge and gain well-deserved recognition.

I congratulate all artists represented in ‘Saltbush Country’ on their selection, and on the success of the exhibition thus far, including as part of Tarnanthi last year.

I was pleased to learn that artists had the opportunity to undertake personal development as part of creating new work for the exhibition, including mentorships and independent research.

I am impressed by the breadth of art forms, range of skill and depth of feeling represented by the works in Saltbush Country.

I hope you will all continue to develop yourselves as artists, for your own benefit and that of your community, as well as the benefit of your audiences.

Your work and your voices are powerful. Please continue to share them with us.

I thank Country Arts for bringing Saltbush Country to Port Lincoln and other regions, and for its broader focus on engaging with, and elevating the work of, regional Aboriginal Elders, artists and communities.

I trust the exhibition will prove popular with Port Lincoln locals and visitors.

It is now my great pleasure to declare Saltbush Country open.

[1] https://www.indaily.com.au/arts-culture/2023/11/07/sas-regional-aboriginal-artists-on-show-in-saltbush-country

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