Exhibition review: Embodiment

A sensory, immersive exhibition from emerging artists.

Personal experiences and intimate spaces are the focus for Carclew House’s 2022 SALA Festival exhibition, Embodiment. Under the guidance of Contemporary Curator Award finalist Asha Southcombe, this year’s Sharehouse Program residents have explored their interests, creative processes, and expressions of identity through their art. They now invite audiences to reflect on their own response to these works, many of which feature interactive elements.

The group’s shared experience at Carclew is also a key focus for the young artists, who have found inspiration in the picturesque environment of the North Adelaide mansion-turned-creative-hub, and in the fruitful opportunities for collaboration that the Sharehouse Program provides. 

The first pieces visible upon entering the foyer are visual artist Chloe Noble’s series of digital paintings, No One Knows Me (Like I Do). Each brightly coloured piece is an ode to a fellow Carclew creative and features a scene from around the house or grounds that holds particular significance for that person. 

Hanging above the ground floor staircase, catching stained-glass-filtered light from the windows above, is Hannah Coleman’s Looming, a textile installation that speaks to the soothing power of knitting on gloomy days, and the hope represented by an emerging sunbeam.  

Chloe Noble and sound designer Keira Simmons have worked together to turn one of the house’s many rooms into the immersive installation, Outside/Inside. Designed to retain the look of a cosy artist’s studio and act as a ‘safe space’, here viewers can tuck themselves into the corner of a couch and enjoy a meditative short film featuring Noble’s footage of birds (taken at Carclew and at the artist’s home) and a suitably dreamy soundscape from Simmons. 

Outside the house, Simmons has also designed a site-specific audio experience called Intrusions. QR codes are dotted around the grounds, taking listeners to short compositions (all named after rock varieties) designed to provoke them to examine their relationship to this time and place. Recordings of birds, wind, and traffic are soon drowned by noises harder to name: bubbling, scraping, and crackling sounds, metallic chimes, and eerie whispers. All seem to hark back to something more ancient. 

This year’s group of residents includes two musicians: Samuel Lau and Thea Martin. Sadly, their experimental musical projects were performed for one night only at the exhibition’s opening event (both, from their descriptions in the printed program, sound fascinating). A sample of Martin’s work, however, can be heard in the Ballroom, where her ghostly arrangement accompanies a series of paintings by Wolfie Genesis.

Perhaps the most striking works in Embodiment, these five large-scale ‘self-portraits’ hang suspended like church banners and depict hollow-eyed, horned, and haloed creatures that look straight out of Fleischer Studios’ 1932 Minnie the Moocher: at once cartoonish and unnerving, ethereal and carnal. 

Read: Dance review: Now Pieces

The most evident takeaway from this exhibition is that its creators have enjoyed the whole process, from experimenting with and refining their own work, to collaborating with others, to making the most of Carclew’s resources. Embodiment is a window into their world, where the presence of each artist is vividly felt, and the house itself plays a memorable role.  

Embodiment, SALA Exhibition
Carlew House and Grounds, North Adelaide
Embodiment will be exhibited until 9 September 2022.

Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. She studied English and Applied Linguistics at Flinders University.