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Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition

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by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Event: -
Tales from the fringe
Penumbral Tales is a photographic art exhibition showing at Flinders University City Gallery as part of SALA (South Australian Living Artist's Festival). It features nine South Australian contemporary photographers. The word penumbral means 'an outlying surrounding region; a periphery'. The premise for this photographic exploration is the realm of the outsider, being on the periphery. As with any themed art exhibition, there is a huge diversity of interpretations and photographic media used.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


The theme of the outsider is quite a universal theme as aren't we all on the outer periphery at some stage? Either by background, ancestry, gender, health or of our own making. The curators have paired photographers with old photographic portraits from yesteryear. Some of these echoes the recent exhibition of daguerreotype prints in the Treasure Wall exhibition space at the State Library.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition, art work by CJ Taylor margin=
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition, art work by CJ Taylor


Photography as an art form is one of identification, examination and self reflection. It is now so mainstream to share images that one wonders if the viewer becomes immune to photographic images as art. But this is photography with a twist; a play on the stories of childhood, home, special events and family occasions, sense of place and belonging.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


The portraits from yesteryear show children in fancy dress - a masked child and a child in a half black and half white costume. Another image was taken at a funeral of a dead aged man in his coffin. There's also a man in a fluffy feathered suit, a fairy princess, a little Napoleon and more beguilingly a woman smoking, which is just entitled Madame. The context of these photos is unknown, but here they are matched with corresponding themes; gender, identity, race, the personal and the political.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


The contemporary artists have used vintage photographs sourced from the State Library of South Australia's collection, as well as works from the Flinders University Art Museum collection. Curator Mark Kimber has been inspired by working with these vintage photographs and pairing them up with contemporary artists.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


Debra Pauwe explores the power of memory and the perceived innocence of childhood in her image entitled Bearded Girl. It is an arresting image. Pauwe asks what is it to be a girl and what is a woman.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition featuring Debra Pauwe's 'Bearded girl'
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition featuring Debra Pauwe's 'Bearded girl'


Photography can be a stilted and isolating practice. The old time portraits have that eerie far away quality of posed images of unknown people. The viewer is left on the periphery, but in Penumbral Tales, the viewer is pushed to look at different sides to relationships, history and how we define ourselves.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


This is a very well realised collection using multiple formats. Large bright acrylics with old photographic plates. Large colour fantasy portraits pinned to the wall amid framed grainy images. The past overlaying the present and into new diversions and social dilemmas.

Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition
Penumbral Tales Art Exhibition


Images are not just for electronic screens but lasting pieces that ask questions about how we have and are treating our marginalised people. It is worth taking the time to explore these tales from the fringe.

Gallery Hours
The exhibition is on from July 18th until September 20th. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday 11am to 4pm and Saturday and Sunday 12 midday to 4pm.
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Why? Tales from the fringe
When: July 18th until September 20th 2015
Where: Flinders University City Gallery at the State Library, North terrace, Adelaide
Cost: Free entry
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