The 18th annual SALA Festival opened with an explosion of applause last Friday night, with the minister of the arts, Jack Snelling, doing the official honors.
Artists, venues, supporters, staff, sponsors and volunteers of the festival were invited to a special evening at The Art Gallery of South Australia, where Mclaren Vale wines and South Australian produce was served against a backdrop of the gallery’s current feature exhibition, Treasure Ships- Art In The Age Of Spices (until August 30th 2015). It was a meeting of the creative-minded, the busy staff and the passionate art-lovers of South Australia, all with a common ground- apprehension for the festival to officially open.
SALA Festival is such an important celebration for the living artists of South Australia as well as the art community, which can be seen as one of the states most valued and renowned qualities. It is a chance for visual artists to stand in the spotlight and be applauded for their contributions to not only the festival, but also to society in general. The festival flaunts thousands of the artists this state has to offer, positioning them on a national and international stage of exposure. It enforces the creative economy, which is an effective (and fun!) way of recharging and boosting the atmosphere and attraction of South Australia.
The presentations were led by Penny Griggs who is one of the two people at the core of SALA festival’s very small management. The other organiser is Kate Moskwa and together they were excited to announce that 2015 is set to be ‘our biggest SALA ever!’
John Hill, chairman of SALA Festival, acknowledged each sponsor for their support and contributions to the much-loved festival, as well as the patron of SALA festival, Paul Greenaway, who established the organisation in 1998. It was then Jack Snelling, minister of the arts, who not only officially declared the festival opening, but also announced the feature artist of the 2016 SALA publication, Catherine Truman.
Feature artist of the 2015 SALA Festival, Giles Bettison, has received an enormous amount of exposure thanks to the festival already, with his art featuring as the image of this years SALA monograph. He acknowledged this in a speech at the opening event, stating ‘it is an amazing honour.’ Bettison also expressed his views on the importance of art in a community, especially one that is becoming increasingly antisocial. ‘We notice art because it is a different point of view than our own.’ He said, ‘when you really see art, you become part of a discussion about different ways of seeing things. When we are engaged and connected like this, we are better able to care and to take care of others.’
The event also featured a live artist demonstration by Jason Simms, working on a light installation in one of the gallery’s many art-filled rooms. This was a perfect way to get people even more excited about the festival and the many things it has on offer- so much to see and do!
The festival runs for the month of August, with a record-breaking 5,205 artists contributing in 610 events and venues. With such a diverse range of mediums, styles and techniques, there is truly something for everybody in our biggest SALA Festival ever. For the exhibition program and more information, click here.
All images by Rachel Darling