ADEloud February 2014
by Cassandra Scalzi
Well, Santa may have come and gone and I didn’t get what I wanted, but the silly season is still rife in Adelaide, with a giant cockroach recently being erected in Rundle Mall. Must the madness continue in this state? It’s bad enough seeing the lycra brigade taking over the town, bustling into cafes like budgie smugglers, ordering cappuccinos, and posing as professional cyclists, all in the name of the Tour Down Under, which is as popular here as a pet store with cute puppies in the front window.
An unexpected giant cockroach lurking in an inner city public toilet bowl is one thing, but a giant, ghastly insect four metres long and purposely put in Adelaide’s main shopping precinct in the name of art, is quite something else. The world’s biggest banana, pineapple, rocking horse and even lobster, just to name a few, can be found here in South Australia. What is this nation’s great obsession with all things big? Has Adelaide gone too far with this one? From a city of churches, to the world’s largest cockroach … perhaps shiny black lycra is not so bad in the whole scheme of things, especially when you can buy an original, unique sculpture on a large scale with just two slabs of beer in this proud insect sanctuary state.
The cockroach reared its ugly head in the late 1990s, north of the city in Lower Light, built as a protest by property owners who were angry about the state government’s plans to build a waste dump in the area. Yes, we are a creative and passionate people when it comes to mounting a political protest. The idea of the dump has been long abandoned, but the big cockie stayed, until it went missing late last year. There were fears of it being held hostage somewhere, being taken by Colombians to Bogota or even just stolen by Victoria, (it wouldn’t be the first time). Concern for the cockroach’s welfare and whereabouts prompted a Facebook campaign to find it, with its initial post attracting more than a million hits from South Australians and insect lovers around the world. I guess that is what makes us so special here in little, old Adelaide; we truly do love all things great and small.
Local TV host and personality, Andrew Costello, was behind the social media campaign, which successfully tracked down the cockroach to a scrap metal yard north of Adelaide. What followed was a very unusual transaction to save the sculpture, according to Tourism Minister, Leon Bignell, but clearly a very Australian way of compensating someone for their trouble, or in this case, affordable, temporary housing for artistic vermin. Quite simply, Cosi, as he is known, purchased the cockroach for two slabs of beer. What a bargain! If only all fine art in this country was so cheap. But the local personality generously decided to donate it to the people of South Australia, rather than keep it himself and put it in his backyard or pool room. While the big, rusty, cockroach has been enjoying its new status as public art in the popular city shopping precinct, plans are underway to return it to its rightful home on Port Wakefield Road at Lower Light, where no doubt it will remain a protected species forevermore.
Other large, perhaps more aesthetically pleasing, sculptures have been on display this summer during the annual Adelaide Airport Brighton Jetty Classic Sculptures. Inspired by the very successful “Sculptures by the Sea’’, at Cottesloe Beach, Western Australia, and the famous, Bondi Sculptures by the Sea in New South Wales (which also happens to be home to the world’s largest poo), the popular art event showcases unique, imaginative and interactive work from local and interstate artists, which range in size and can be seen outdoors as well as indoors. This fantastic free event wrapped up on the 2nd of February, but is definitely one to catch next summer if you happen to be in Adelaide.
Onto an important and inspiring visual arts exhibition, rich in various mediums and promise for emerging, local artists, is the Helpmann Academy Graduates Exhibition 2014. A landmark exhibition for graduates from South Australia’s tertiary art institutions, the Academy’s exhibition will showcase an impressive selection of artwork selected from more than 150 graduating artists with skills across a wide range of creative disciplines including, ceramics, glass, installations, jewellery, painting, photography, sculpture and textiles.
Fringe time, 14 February through to 16 March, is the time to be in Adelaide for the ultimate arts fix, with over 900 events staged in pop up venues in parks, warehouses, laneways and empty buildings, as well as established venues, including theatres, art galleries, cafes, hotels and town halls. The Adelaide Fringe Festival literally takes over the entire city, (which you may argue is not difficult) with artists from around Australia and across the globe participating alongside local talent in all art forms spanning cabaret, comedy, circus, dance, film, theatre, puppetry, music, visual art and design.
What differentiates the Adelaide Fringe Festival from many other such festivals around the world is that, in addition to the ticketed open access program, special free events run throughout the program. The Fringe Parade would probably have to be the most popular such event, and is the hallmark celebration, heralding the official commencement of the Adelaide Fringe Festival on 14 Feb. The Parade is an unforgettable Adelaide tradition, trailing down King William Street with its signature kaleidoscopic collision of colour, light and music, ending in a fantastic fireworks display for all to enjoy. This year was no exception.
The Fringe Street Theatre Festival is a curated ‘mini-festival within a festival’, and is also free for all, promising to showcase “super skilled”, “super funny” and “super silly” street theatre performers from across Australia and abroad. It sounds like my kind of festival really, and I’m sure there will be no shortage of local talent! You can get into this one over the long weekend from the 7th to the 10th of March.
The Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, will contribute their own special Spirit Festival, which of course celebrates Australia’s indigenous culture, with an always rich display of unique Aboriginal art to admire, live music, workshops, great food and entertainment for the whole family, on the 15th and 16th of March. Desert Fringe, a regional event at the Port Augusta Cultural Centre, will also feature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, as well as other internationally renowned acts on the 14th and 15th of March.
Another regional, family friendly Fringe event, can be found at the Goolwa Wharf on Sunday the 9th of March, with a surprise selection of ‘’absurd slapstick and knockabout acts’’ on the Fringe caravan stage. Sounds like a familiar display outside some city nightspots, but I suspect this family event will be an alcohol free zone. You can, however, grab a double shot at the Unley Coffee Fiesta and celebrate all things coffee on the 16th of March at the Soldiers Memorial Gardens in Unley. Apparently there are some cafes in the area serving up Pedigree puppy milk lattes of late … like the bowl of dog water outside wasn’t enough!
You will always get more than you bargained for (except for a big cockroach, which will thankfully be long gone ) with Fringe in the Mall, where Adelaide Fringe artists publicly showcase and promote their events.
For audiences across Adelaide venues, it is the perfect opportunity and creative environment to be engulfed by art, to admire and be inspired, with something always new to discover. One year, in the iconic, Garden of Unearthly Delights, I witnessed a man in a black g-string, not smuggling budgies, but rather blowing bubbles out of two little holes he was blessed with under each eye, whilst immersed in a bath tub of water, muttering some nonsense, surrounded by fairy lights and strange tunes emanating under the tent. True, Adelaide has a good supply of oddities and strange characters all year round, and for free, but there is nothing like watching a freak show in a carnival type atmosphere and knowing you are supporting a unique artist, whether it be the ones with a peculiar anatomy, or those with more mainstream and world class artistic skills.
Open hearts and open minds … Adelaide is “rad” according to this year’s official Adelaide Fringe Festival ambassador, renowned Australian songstress and four time ARIA award winner, Katie Noonan. In fact, she has renamed our city, “Radelaide”, as she takes on her role, as well as looking forward to performing here again with excitement and relish. Katie Noonan and Circa, a captivating Love-Song-Circus, is a powerful ode to the strength of the first female convicts in Australia, a show that shouldn’t be missed and is definitely on my list! As are Titters! 2 BIG ONES! This brazen show, featuring the hottest international talent, is set to be according to some, the best value show at this year’s Fringe festival.
It really depends what you are into and of course what you are prepared to discover … Two Naked Magicians could be interesting, as could Gender Fractions with a mobile change booth, where complete strangers swap clothes with someone of the opposite sex in an attempt to deconstruct the paradigm of gender through a unique blend of interactive performance art, video and street installation.
While 50 Shades of Gay, which promises to pay homage to George Michael and other old classics, sounds like an absolute hoot – a fabulous journey through all colours of the rainbow – with the humorous ensemble rolling out 50 songs that bat for the other team, all sung a cappella! The Dark Garden, by Adelaide-born Paul McDermott, the man for whom the term “Hardcore Cabaret” was coined, is also well worth a peek. The master of comedy will deliver a show drenched in delightful song and hilarious stories, the ones that give you a good stomach ache!
Established South Australian mixed media artist, Emma Hack, will once again be showcasing new works at the Adelaide Convention Centre, as part of The Big Slapple. Emma’s work draws inspiration from unique Australian flora and fauna, as well as Oriental influences. Collectors and art lovers worldwide have been enjoying her work for many years, and now local emerging artists can take part in the ‘Emma Hack Prize’, a $5000 acquisitive art prize for SA based artists from all disciplines, based on a yearly theme. This year, the theme is ‘My Environment’ which will also feature a ‘People’s Choice’ prize.
Every year it seems it is becoming increasingly difficult to choose from the hundreds of new, enticing and captivating, world class shows on offer at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Sure, you could book in for the big, slapping, sold out, record breaking and award winning shows … There are plenty to choose from, such as the award-winning Spiegeltent sensation, Limbo, which returns to the Garden after eight months overseas with critically acclaimed seasons. The fact that the show was “so hot” that Madonna came twice wouldn’t be the drawcard for me, but, purely, the daring, innovative, explosive and imaginative performance of otherworldly proportions it promises to be puts it on my list.
While I appreciate the many internationally acclaimed shows to choose from, I must say, I am much more excited about simply wandering around the city I am proud to call home, which will be buzzing with creative energy, and encountering the enchanting music, art, street theatre, circus and comedy, which, every day, passionate artists dare to share with others. Sounds more like heaven to me!
Next month: More Adelaide Fringe events, The Adelaide Festival of Arts, the French Film Festival, Clean up Australia Day and more.