Event review: SALA Festival, Adelaide

A critical exploration of South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival’s fusion of commerce and creativity.

The annual South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival is a nexus where local businesses intertwine with artistic ingenuity, weaving a complex tapestry of creativity.

This year three unique exhibitions provided a lens through which to perceive the intricate dynamics of this fusion, with glimpses of both commendable execution and areas for refinement.

Upon venturing into the Festival’s offerings, visitors found themselves immersed in an array of creative expressions that intersected with commerce. Two-Bit Villains, located within the historic Adelaide Arcade, beckoned with Selena Smith’s striking canvases, exuding an engaging fusion with the establishment’s ambience. With an awe-inspiring mastery of vibrant hues and textured strokes, Smith’s works breathed life into her surroundings. Drawing inspiration from Monet’s ethereal gardens, her creations emanated the very essence of her Limestone Coast haven. The gallery, adorned with six of her pieces, seamlessly infused vitality and nature into the fabric of the shop’s interior, leaving an indelible impression

Nike Adelaide in Rundle Mall hosted a mixed-media exhibition by creative company kwpx, integrating unconventional artistic mediums with elements of pop culture. This amalgamation across multiple levels of the store prompted contemplation on the fine line between artistic intent and commercial immersion. It led one to ponder whether this harmonious coexistence enhances artistic endeavour or potentially diminishes its authenticity.

Angela Cardozo, ‘Paperart from Heaven’ exhibited at Foodland Rundle Mall. Photo: ArtsHub.

The final chapter of this reviewer’s journey unfolded at Foodland Rundle Mall, where Angela Cardozo‘s intricately-crafted papercut masterpieces graced the corner café section. Her monochromatic masterpieces, meticulously layered and lovingly fashioned, bestowed upon shoppers a haven of serenity intertwined with artistry. However, it was a challenge to locate this exhibition within the bustling environment. This predicament emphasised the crucial role of wayfinding and clear signage, particularly when artistic expressions find their home within larger commercial spaces.

The essence of the annual SALA Festival is grounded in the dynamic convergence of local commerce and artistic prowess, yet it is equally important to address the practical dimensions that influence the overall experience. The absence of wheelchair accessibility at Two-Bit Villains, along with the need for improved wayfinding within commercial spaces like Foodland Rundle Mall, prompts us to acknowledge that, even within the artistic tapestry, mindful considerations can elevate inclusivity and facilitate a more accessible engagement with the Festival’s offerings.

Read: Exhibition review: Open Borders, John Curtin Gallery

SALA Festival presented hundreds of events across Adelaide in August 2023.

This review is published under the Amplify Collective, an initiative supported by The Walkley Foundation and made possible through funding from the Meta Australian News Fund.

Manuela Barry, an emerging poet, artist, and storyteller from South Australia, draws inspiration from her Sudanese heritage to explore themes of identity and culture. Her performances provoke introspection, sparking transformative conversations and inspiring change. Recognizing the lack of cultural diversity in the arts, Manuela uses her writing and performances to amplify her unique perspective, solidifying her status as a rising star in spoken word and poetry.