Exploring Adelaide's Visual Arts Scene

Adelaide has a strong visual arts community who support both emerging and established artists in a broad range of media. Here are some of the artist-run galleries and collaboration spaces you'll find across Adelaide’s CBD and throughout the outer suburbs

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Cult & Harper
Published 24 Feb 2018

Award-winning Adelaide artist Emma Hack has a new home at ART BAR (52 Sturt St, @artbarph) in the CBD. The space features oil paintings, still lifes, photography, and iPad artwork from over 100 local SA Collective artists, and also offers wine tastings from an ever changing cellar door. The quaint space has indoor and outdoor seating and is the perfect place to wind down with friends over a glass of South Australian wine. ART BAR breathes fresh life into the traditional stereotype of an art gallery, making it more immersive, family friendly, and accessible.

Cult & Harper (168 St Vincent St E, @cultandharper) opened as one of the last of the Renew Port Adelaide initiatives and is the brainchild of large-scale artist Lisa King and boyfriend Jarrad Jackson. The transformed loft space is a platform for local visual artists not only to exhibit, but to use as a collaborative working space. The cultural hub is home to a retail store, an event space, a cyclorama photography studio and a licensed bar. The functional space is surrounded by a glorious assault of the visual sense with clashing neon, velvet, and vintage furnishings paired with commanding wall art. The space is available to hire for hosting events, exhibitions and parties.

Not only is Fontanelle (175 St Vincent St, @fontanelle_gallery) in Port Adelaide a home to 27 South Australian artists, the gallery also provides annual studio hire scholarships to two visual art graduates a year, thanks to the Helpmann Academy and the Klein Foundation. The artists under Fontanelle’s wing are able to utilise studio, workshop and rehearsal spaces, as the aim of the gallery is to support local artists from all disciplines and in all stages of their career. By embracing creativity within their walls and providing a space for artists to ‘work, take risks, engage in dialogue and debate, and exhibit,’ Fontanelle encourages artists to continue challenging the status quo.

Supported by Fontanelle, Sister Gallery (26 Sixth St, @sistergallery) is the new kid on the block and exhibits visual artists from South Australia, Australia and overseas. Sister Gallery is pushing boundaries of what it means to be an art gallery by including an online exhibition space which will feature internet and video art. Co-director Mia Van den Bos is “particularly interested in the way artists have adapted to the digital age and are using emerging technologies in their practice” and how these challenging works can be incorporated into traditional gallery spaces.

FELTspace (12 Compton St, @feltspace) is an artist run organisation in the Adelaide Central Market district which focuses on local emerging and early-career artists and is celebrating ten years of continuous operation in 2018. FELTspace have supported hundreds of artists by providing a space for development, discussion and exhibition of new work. It is an invaluable site for experimental and diverse exhibitions with openings on the first Wednesday of every month. In April of this year an all-star exhibition will be held to celebrate the ten year anniversary.

The Lion Arts Centre (North Ter & Morphett St) in the city’s west is home to ACE Open (@ace_open), South Australia’s flagship contemporary art gallery ‘placing values of ambition, integrity, openness and criticality at its core.’ ACE Open hosts contemporary and experimental artists from South Australia, Australia and abroad. The free exhibitions are curated to be challenging, but the space is welcoming and encourages engagement. A broad range of perspectives are showcased across cultures, ideas and art practices. The gallery hosts an onsite studio program and also publishes the Broadsheet Journal one of Australia’s most respected visual art publications.

Also at the Lion Arts Centre, Nexus Arts (@nexusarts) was born out of the cultural and societal changes from Australia’s immigration policy shift and increasing multiculturalism within communities. In its early days, the collective nurtured and highlighted the work created by artists through their own cultural lens, often in juxtaposition to Australia’s conservative understandings. Throughout the life of Nexus Arts, the focus has been on bringing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) artists into the mainstream visual arts scene. As one of the leading organisations supporting multicultural artists, Nexus Arts have challenged and questioned cultural stereotypes and incited debate across art and community contexts. In addition to fostering multicultural artists, the centre runs special projects and services within the community including collaborative projects, forums and professional consultations.  

With an annual program including exhibitions, collaborative projects, residencies and performances, Vitalstatistix (11 Nile St, @vitalstatistix) is a vibrant artist-run contemporary organisation. There is a focus at Vitalstatistix on the development of multidisciplinary art forms which explore and experiment with ideas and engagement. Being a feminist organisation, there is a great tradition of supporting female artists of the state which continues stronger than ever in the current climate. The gallery calls Port Adelaide home in the heritage-listed Waterside Workers Hall.