Wander into the unique, light-filled lower space of the Signal Point Gallery beside the bridge in Goolwa this month and you might be surprised by the 'Drawing on Country' art exhibition.
All the artwork on display was created, started or inspired by the 'Drawing on Country' Community Day held in a number of communities across the Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth on 7 April 2018. This project is designed to inspire people of all ages, regardless of artistic abilities or skill level, to go outdoors and experience creative expression in a natural setting and to exhibit the end product in a gallery.
On the Community Day in April, people gathered across the region in Goolwa, Clayton Bay, Milang, Raukkan, Currency Creek and Langhorne Creek to interpret the landscape of Lake Alexandrina in a variety of media. In each location, a professional artist facilitated the session, guiding and encouraging the participants, who ranged from professional and experienced artists to beginners.
Each year, a different convenor runs the Community Day in each location and they impart their own flavour to their part of the project. For example, last year's convenor at Clayton Bay, Gaynor Hartvigsen, taught us to make pens out of local reeds and how to use them. This year, the convenor, Barbary O'Brien, took us to a location I'd never been to in Clayton Bay.
The works in the resulting exhibition vary from traditional landscape paintings to Aboriginal paintings and modern art, works in clay, on lino, printmaking, poetry and more.
The 'Drawing on Country' Community Day and exhibition has been held each year since 2013. However, this year is the first time it is being held as a SALA exhibition (SA Living Artists).
I particularly enjoyed this year's exhibition because of the new, spacious location and the variety of media in the exhibition. There were also some new locations depicted in the works which have inspired me to go and explore these places.
This project started after the drought in the 2000s seriously affected a number of the communities around the Lower Lakes.
On the upper level of the Signal Point Gallery is another SALA exhibition, 'Rapture' by Monika Morgenstern. In this collection of images, Monika aims to uncover and reveal how the mystical exists in contemporary society and how she as an artist can unpack this subject through art making.
You can have a drink or a bite to eat at the Wharf Barrel Shed in the same building, or venture outside to the shed behind the Oscar W museum to the Steam Exchange Brewery, where you can enjoy a quiet ale on the deck and take in the river view.
And while you are in the vicinity, there is the heritage steam-powered paddle steamer Oscar W to be explored too. The Oscar W museum on the wharf is open most days and entry is free. You can also have a tour of the paddle steamer when the museum is open. If you're keen for the real experience, you can have a ride around the Goolwa Basin or to Clayton Bay. Check the website for costs and dates.