'Artists can be isolated': Mental health is front of mind at SALA Festival exhibition opening

A show at Tailem Bend's Coorong Gallery aims to fill visitors' and artists' lives with some much-needed colour.

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We’ve never needed art exhibitions so much as we do now – so says the artist who opened one at the Coorong Gallery on Friday.

Colour Our World is the title of an exhibition featuring almost 90 works from more than 20 Coorong district artists, part of the 2020 South Australian Living Artists Festival.

At an opening event, Colleen Cavanagh, of Tintinara, spoke about the exhibiton's importance to artists such as herself.

“Art practices can be isolating in nature,” she said.

“If you play sport, you’ve got the community there supporting you, you’ve got your teammates that you play with, you’ve got the supporters, so you’ve got a network.

“Sometimes artists can be isolated, so we appreciate this avenue.”

Exhibiting artwork was daunting, she said, but gave her confidence.

Coorong council tourism and development officer Kellie Jaensch spoke about the importance of creativity and colour to everyone during a “bleak” year.

“Now more than ever do we look to the arts to immerse ourselves and soothe our world,” she said.

Councillor Glynis Taylor credited all the artists for having a go.

“All arts exercise human imagination, are a form of expression, and are also a powerful influencer,” she said.

“The finished work bares the artist’s soul and often has hidden meaning and a deep, personal message.

“I believe art is less about its public persona and more about the mental health and wellbeing of the artists who give so much in order to create some incredible, thought-provoking and visually stunning works.”

Ms Cavanagh thanked the Coorong council for its willingness to support the arts, and encouraged all would-be artists – even those who thought they lacked any talent – to go to a workshop and give it a try.

A second SALA exhibition of local artworks will open at Tintinara next Friday, while three other exhibitions are on elsewhere in the Murraylands during August.

Photos of Kellie Jaensch, Glynis Taylor and Colleen Cavanagh (top); Valerie Sparrow, Elizabeth Nicholls and Pauline Merritt (middle); and Irmgard Schubert and Marianne Cunneen (bottom): Peri Strathearn.