DIY Audio Tour

The SALA Audio Tour had its beginnings in 2020, and has now become a staple part of our programming!

The Audio Tour is published to the SALA Podcast so you can listen to it just like any other episode, but we encourage you to don your headphones and follow along the tour in real life. All stops are within the Adelaide CBD.

2021 Audio Tour

Check out the new do-it-yourself audio tour of public art in the City of Adelaide! Join Steph in this meander around the CBD and find out more about the murals, sculptures, and installations that decorate our city. You can listen from the comfort of home or listen along while you walk the route yourself. 

Hello and welcome to a special episode of the SALA Podcast, our Do-it-yourself audio tour of public art in the city of Adelaide. My name is Steph and I’ll be dotting around the city to various murals and sculptures that you can see any time of day or night. You can listen to this anywhere, but if you would like to walk the tour while you listen, I’ll be sure to give you enough time to press pause as you walk to the next stop. Before we get started, I’d like to acknowledge that I’m walking upon Kaurna land. Please join me in taking a moment to consider sites of significance to the Kaurna people that weren’t afforded the same reverence and preservation as the artworks that we’re about to visit. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

We are starting our tour on the east end of the city of Adelaide on the corner of East Terrace and Grenfell Street. Here on the eastern wall of Tandanya, the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, the face of a screen legend looks out over the parklands. David Gulpilil is a Yolŋu actor, dancer, singer and painter. He is known for films such as Walkabout, Storm Boy and 10 Canoes to name a few, but has a lifetime of projects that he’s been involved in. This massive black and white mural was designed and painted by a South Australian artist and Ngarrindjeri man Thomas Readett working with Laura Paige. It was commissioned in 2021 by ABCG Film in collaboration with Tandanya. Now, Tom’s art practice -I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Tom- is based in emotive portraiture. So it’s really wonderful that he was able to bring that experience and also that reverence for Gulpilil’s legacy to this project. And what an outcome, it’s sort of a three-part mural, or I guess you could say it has three vignettes. On the left, we have a bright image of a young Gulpilil; in the middle, there is a subtle silhouette of him walking through an open landscape, and on the right is a low-key or sort of dark-toned portrait of him in his older years. Each face holds a gaze that sort of peers out across the parklands and presumably watches the sun rise each morning. There’s something really interesting about the contrast between the really hurried commuters that sort of bank up momentarily at the intersection just across from it, and this lifetime that has been quietly but undeniably rendered in paint beside them. I’ll put some links together for anyone who wants to learn more about this larger-than-life personality. Next, I’m going to make my way to Rundle mall at the juncture of Gawler Place.

I’m here in Rundle Mall, facing south down Gawler Place and before me stands a pigeon. There are pigeons all around me in fact, but this one in particular is two meters tall. This sculpture, aptly titled ‘Pigeon‘ was created by nationally and internationally recognized South Australian artist Paul Sloane, and it was crafted out of stainless steel by local manufacturer Iguana Creative. Sloan’s vision here was to raise the status of the humble pigeon from an overlooked creature to the realm of awe and wonder. He says he sees pigeons as proud foreigners promenading through our leisure and retail precincts. They are the quiet witnesses of our day-to-day activities and our observers from day through to night. It’s definitely a choice, isn’t it, to make such a large sculpture of a creature that people often regard as common and dirty. Pigeons are so funny to watch – I mean, that’s much like people watching in the mall, I guess. It’s got these sweet golden feet, and a leg band on its right foot. Christina actually laughed at me the other day for calling it a bracelet, but it’s definitely shiny enough to be one. I wonder if that’s meant to encourage endearment. I mean, pigeons with a band around their leg usually boast some level of importance, whether it’s as a racing bird or part of a scientific study. I’ll give you this much Paul Sloan: it’s worked on me. I think it’s a very endearing part of our mall.

Our next stop isn’t far away at all. Just turn around 180 degrees, and head north on Galwer Place.

Head towards the leafy Arbor and you’ll notice an undulating band of gold, almost like a semi-submerged mobius strip. We are of course talking about ‘Flow‘ created by local artists Laura Wills and Will Cheeseman and fabricated by Exhibition Studios. I encourage you to get up close to appreciate the fine details of this work where you’ll find animals, constellations, trees, textures and other organic forms. I really love the way that this work navigates the other structure, it reminds me a little bit of how you have to duck and weave the foot traffic in Rundle mall on a busy day. The fluidity of the shape is a really nice relief from the functionality of the building surrounding it. And I think that hints to how flow is evident in nature and the seasons as well. So from the seamless transition from day to night, the pull of a river, the upward growth of a tree or indeed the flow of people through the city. Now we’re going to keep heading north up Gawler Place and across North Terrace towards the SA Museum.

Here we are outside the South Australian Museum, with the installation ‘14 Pieces‘ by established South Australian artists Hossein and Angela Valamanesh. Now I didn’t know this until recently, but the inspiration for the work was the opalized vertebral column of an Ichthyosaur which is part of the South Australian Museum Collection. This whole time I had no idea that this water feature was based on dinosaur bones. Very much extinct, the Ichthyosaur was a marine reptile found in the former inland sea, which covered the interior of Australia more than 100 million years ago. What a great way to bring the museum’s collection out into public space and invite passers by to consider the notions of excavation, reconstruction and conservation. To get to my next stop, I’m going to hop on the tram from the Art Gallery Tram Stop and head west down North Terrace to the City West tram stop, all within the free tram zone.

When you get off the tram, you want to head southeast towards the Morphett Street Bridge. As you get closer, you’ll notice a massive pastel mural rising high above a carpark to the east. This is the City of Music Mural by artist Dave Court. So in 2015, Adelaide was designated a UNESCO city of music, and in 2019 Dave Court was asked to depict this on a wall. Now there’s a lot going on here: A) it’s a mammoth wall, and B) how on earth do you represent music or the Adelaide music industry visually? Dave set about this project by interviewing people who work in the SA music industry; people who support, present, and play SA music. Dave looked carefully at the intersection of the visual in this industry, drawing inspiration and elements from gig posters, the WOMAD flags, features of live music venues (like the stripes on the Exeter or the ornamentation of the Thebarton Theater), and plenty more. There’s a fantastic documentary video that I’ll link you to on the process but yeah, the stats I think were that it was about 1000 square meters of wall and they used about 300 litres of paint in 10 days to make it happen.

Next stop is conveniently close by – just sort of shuffle yourself towards the corner of Morphett Street and Hindley Street and you’ll see a larger than life figure swathed in color on the eastern wall of the Rockford Hotel. This work is ‘She imagined buttons‘ by local artist Jasmine Crisp. This was the first public art commission celebrating the City of Music laneway project in the West End precinct, with the mural drawing inspiration from the namesake of its adjoining Sia Furler Lane. Jasmine Crisp says that Sia was the first act she saw perform at the Adelaide Big Day Out in 2011. It was one of her first concerts, she was newly 16 and felt nervous in the large and unfamiliar crowd, yet Sia’s presence and warmth on stage put the young artists at ease. Jasmine recalls the performer’s theatrical costume and bright crochet, which are elements that are echoed in the mural. You can walk right under this piece so go and get up close and personal and check out the detail of this work. Our next stop is to the east, part-way up Hindley St.

When you get close to the Leigh St set of traffic lights on Hindley, start looking around and see if you notice anything amiss. I have walked past this artwork countless times but didn’t realize it, which I think is a thrill in a sort of hidden-in-plain-sight kind of way. You’re looking for a parking sign. I can’t tell you what it says because it doesn’t say anything. ‘Parking Pole‘ by Michel Nikou is part of the Adelaide Bike Art Trail and aims to mirror what exists beside, it but perform a ‘softening of the rules’. So I guess Nikou is playing on the notion that bronze, which the sculpture is made of, sort of announces itself as art, but by virtue of having a sign showing nothing, this is met with a bit of humor as well. I love that this sculpture has ground in the artist’s actual experience of parking in the spaces around here, and realizing that they really do require a bit of purposeful inspection if you want to avoid getting a fine. I feel like adding a blank parking pole to this mix is a great way to comment on how tedious this experience can be. Let’s carry on a little further up the street towards another bronze sculpture – this one is a little easier to spot.

Opposite the McDonald’s is a tribute to Roy ‘Mo’ Rene, who in the early 1900s became a larger than life stage and radio comedian. The Australian entertainment industry’s annual ‘Mo Award’ for Excellence in performance is named after him. His likeness stands, hands in pockets, looking towards his birthplace, honoring his position as a true icon of Australian culture. Artist Robert Hannaford spent weeks researching the pose and dress of Rene as his famous stage character Mo McCackie. The statue was unveiled during the 2010 Adelaide Festival and I’m told truly captures the stance and temperament of this Australian legend.

Let’s carry onwards to King William Street. From here you can catch the free tram from Rundle Mall to Pirie Street, or you can walk towards the Adelaide Town Hall.

As you get closer to Town Hall, you’ll see why I had to mention this one, a very simple effect but one that I love nevertheless. If you look up to the balcony, you’ll see none other than The Beatles. This glass artwork is to commemorate The Beatles’ visit in 1964 and the 150th year of Adelaide Town Hall. On the 12th of June 1964 more than 300,000 people lined ANZAC Highway and King William Street to welcome The Beatles. The band greeted the crowd from this very balcony and it was the largest gathering they had attracted anywhere in the world. The photorealistic artwork was created using multiple reference images from the band’s time and Adelaide fired onto a sheet of 15mm thick toughened glass. Now we’ll keep on our way towards Grote street for the finale of this tour.

Now it shouldn’t be hard to spot this feature opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre. Jason Sims is the Adelaide artist behind this incredible luminous work, known for exploring the potential of light and reflection to create illusions of space and form. This sculpture ‘Golden Rhombohedron (Obtuse)‘, was commissioned as part of illuminate Adelaide 2021 and is designed to reflect and respond to its surroundings. I encourage you to admire it both from afar, and from up close, because the closer that you get, the more that object seems to reveal a space of infinite intersections within. If this new feature looks familiar to you, you’re definitely not imagining things. This piece has a companion on Bank Street, which is ‘Golden Rhombohedron (Acute)‘, and together they kind of bookend the city’s market to riverbank link. There’s actually a deeper poetic justice here as well -or perhaps, I should say, a geometric justice, I’ll just explain: So a rhombohedron, like a cube has six faces made from the same shape. In this case, the shape of those faces, is a golden rhombus, which gets its name because its diagonals are in the golden ratio. Stay with me. There are two distinct golden rhombohedra: an acute and an obtuse. When brought together, these two forms can be configured to build infinitely upon each other with no void space, which I think is a really lovely way to imbue a sense of fullness and complementary growth between the two sculptures as they stand in our city. These are incredible when viewed by night, and I’ll have you know that they are powered by a 100% renewable electricity, so stay a while and enjoy the spectacle.

This concludes our public art audio tour. I hope that you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did, putting it together. This was barely scratching the surface in terms of how much public art we are lucky enough to have in our city. The city of Adelaide has a great public art resource on its website, complete with a map that you can use to check out all the bits that I couldn’t squeeze into this episode. I’ll pop all of the links I’ve referred to in our show notes and I’ll leave you to it. Happy wandering!

2020 Audio Tour

Welcome to SALA’s first ever DIY Audio Tour! As we move through the city, you’ll hear from Jacinta Koolmatrie, Troy-Anthony Baylis, and Makeda Duong, and between them we will consider existing monuments and new artwork.

Stop 1: Tarntanyangga (Victoria Square)
Stop 2: The Art Gallery of South Australia (10am-5pm)
Stop 3: Nexus Arts (Tue-Fri, 10am-4pm, exhibition open until 17 Sep 2020)

2020 Tour Stops