Only a forty minute drive from Adelaide’s CBD, the Fleurieu Peninsula is home to some of South Australia’s most impressive artists and galleries, all thriving with pioneering art, culture, and heritage.
The purple hued rays of a Mount Compass sunrise are straight out of John Lacey’s oil painting: a grazing meadow with a sweeping view of the South Australian countryside. Adorning the studio walls are his various landscape paintings, however beyond Lacey’s workspace extends a view confined by no walls and no limitations.
Lacey’s spacious light-filled studio reveals an array of impressionist oil paintings set against a backdrop of earthy brown paddocks and restful eucalyptus trees. The picturesque scenery, countryside, and natural environment are what stimulate his creativity, while the studio allows his artwork to come alive.
Alike Lacey, many artists have combined their art studios with their homes. The invitation to enter an artist’s studio and home is just one of the many captivating qualities of the Fleurieu Peninsula. Visitors are compelled to appreciate the transformation from a spark of inspiration into a piece of work that will endure through time. Here, visitors can witness the remarkable skills and demands of the Fleurieu’s local artists.
A visit to the flourishing Fleurieu includes: languid days walking around the towns, devouring doorstep produce, enjoying signature wines at spectacular cellars, dancing to a local band and inhaling a culture full of creation. Though if you’re not exploring one of the many art studios, you’ll find yourself in the centre of South Australia’s most dramatic natural art gallery.
At the heart of McLaren Vale once stood the Black Cockatoo Arthouse – a gallery, cinema, and live performance venue tucked away on Park Street. In 2013, a fire destroyed the venue, leaving nothing but a teacup and a CD behind. Though if the locals of the Fleurieu have proved one thing, it's that their passion and support for the arts will never die.
The remodelled Black Cockatoo Arthouse offers a bohemian collection of entertainment and festivities that echoes the atmosphere of a pop-up stand at the Adelaide Fringe. Visitors are greeted by a deceivingly big room, dimmed with fairy lights, lanterns, and filled with eccentric chairs of all shapes and sizes. Alternating between cinematic events and art exhibitions across the whole of the Fleurieu, the now-portable Black Cockatoo Arthouse is enriched with antique and rustic décor that captivates visitors.
Not only is the Fleurieu Peninsula one of South Australia’s most important hubs for creative expression, but the artistic and cultural attractions offer much more than just artwork. Art, culture, and heritage are the important customs that unite the Fleurieu’s history, food, wine, music, and environment together.
The words ‘Dense Bush Myponga’ may not sound compelling to foreigners, yet painter David Dridan can’t help but gravitate towards the unspoiled shrubs of the Fleurieu. From red-hot arid scenes to illustrious seascape blues, Dridan captures moments in time that take your breath away.
There is a strong relationship between art and wine across the Fleurieu, and Dridan has fashioned the perfect way to celebrate the two. In a peaceful corner of the Fleurieu rests Langhorne Creek: home to the Bremerton Winery Cellar Door and Dridan’s prized collection of barrelheads.
The Clarendon Barrel Ends Collection celebrates the works of twenty-seven Fleurieu locals. The barrels played a vital role in the winemaking process, and now they present a renewed importance. As well as artwork, the Bremerton Winery offers a tasting bar, restaurant, and an extensive variety of local produce for sale. A signature glass of ‘Coulthard’ Cabernet Sauvignon accompanied by the ‘ploughman’s platter’ full of locally made cheddar cheese, are the perfect luncheon complements to the collection of quaint oak barrel ends.
The Fleurieu is predominantly famous for its dramatic coastline, booming surf beaches, and popular family swimming spots. However, SA’s right foot offers much more than merely summer activities. Getting to the Fleurieu Peninsula is easy, but with the flourishing artistic culture, leaving is much harder to do.
Header via Inside South Australia