Let us set the scene for a typical day within Victor Harbor. Languid days walking around the town, devouring doorstep produce, tasting wines at spectacular outskirt cellars, and inhaling a culture full of creation. Lining the walls of these experiences, however, are artistic expressions that are an admirable tribute to SA’s traditional art scenes.
Victor Harbor has been the home to creativity for many generations. From the weaving traditions of the Ngarrindjeri, to the paintings, glasswork, and performances that visitors appreciate today, this quaint town continues to flourish with unique and enduring traditions.
Since the beginning of human habitation, the dramatic coastline, windswept beauty, and earthy brown hills surrounding Victor Harbor have provided for extensive artistic inspiration. Traditions and cultural practices may be developing, but the rich heritage and unique identity of the town stubbornly refuses to die.
Situated on Coral Street in Victor Harbor is one of the few specialist Aboriginal Art galleries in South Australia. Kiri Kiri Art depicts a contemporary chapter of Indigenous art and showcases crafts and sculptures from around Australia.
Lining the walls of the gallery are nothing but radiant dot paintings and abstract graphics. The artwork screams of spiritual connection to land and symbolic Indigenous traditions.
Kiri Kiri Arts features the works of the endowed Indigenous artist, Linda Puna. The vivacity in Linda’s artwork is undeniably unique. The use of colour attracts viewers into what appears to be a humble theme, to only reveal the depth and rich history entwined within the paint.
Forced to live and grow up in South Australia without her family, Linda’s artwork paints a picture of the world through her eyes. To visitors, her paintings appear to be abstract and full of colourful shapes across the Fleurieu landscape. To her however, it portrays her ancestry and heritage marked by family and cultural dislocation.
“The drama in her work is unrivalled,” Helen Johnson from Kiri Kiri Arts said on her website. “Linda's sense of colour and space draws you in to the seemingly simple subject matter. It is contemporary, modern Aboriginal art at its best.”
The Fleurieu has helped to shape the identity of many Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. Indigenous artwork is still very much alive and shows how the land has and will continue to be directly linked to artistic expression.
Modern-day Victor Harbor is just as ripe for excitement and heritage as it has ever been. The arrangement of historic buildings and public art spaces allow for iconic artworks to extend beyond the walls of Victor Harbor’s galleries.
If the coloured walls on the Victor Harbor Town Hall could talk, they would sing love for the performing arts in a compelling and theatrical manner.
A confident woman with golden hair takes center stage as the city band, dancers, actors, and chorales surround her in an enchanted auditorium. Michael Tye’s striking mural was designed in 2007 and illustrates the role the hall has played in the performing arts over the past 100 years. The heavy use of red mosaic tiles bestows rays of intensity and passion, while the soft purples, yellows, and greens allow viewers to take a step back and appreciate the harmonious heritage.
A few streets over, in the center of Warland Reserve is the iconic Whale Tail Fountain. Sculpted in 1993 by Silvio Apponyi, the fountain celebrates the magnificent southern whales that visit the coast each winter. Australia is renowned for whale watching, and Victor Harbor is no exception.
Further highlighting the traditional importance of whales is the superlative whale, Kondoli, which rests at Kleinigs Hill lookout. The mosaic tiles beam shades of sun-hot reds and jubilant yellows that are dotted across a bold grey whale. Calming blue waves depict an infinitely serene ocean—the home to these majestic creatures and the Victor Harbor’s artistic inspiration.
It is near impossible to escape artistic expression when visiting the Victor Harbor and the Fleurieu Peninsula alike. Pioneering illustrations are breathing new life into exhausted buildings and promising that visitors appreciate a simple coffee amid the prosperous paddocks or the limestone cliffs that fall into the ocean.
Header via Professionals Victor Harbor website