Limestone Coast artists explore limits

ON SHOW NOW: The Sky's the Limit judging panel featured Country Arts SA arts and culture leader Merilyn DeNys, Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre director Dr Melentie Pandilovski and Thumbprint Inc president Dr Ruth Schubert. The trio are pictured with JoJo Spook's piece Rolling Hills of Hawker, which won the $2000 overall prize. Pictures: BRETT KENNEDY

By Brett Kennedy

A BLENDING of passions proved a recipe for success in Grant District Council’s The Sky’s the Limit art exhibition as Robe artist JoJo Spook claimed the $2000 overall prize.

Unveiled at the Mount Gambier Regional Airport, Ms Spook was inspired by her love of both creation and aviation for her work Rolling Hills of Hawker.

It was one of four prizes handed out at the December 3 launch, which attracted the region’s art community to the new airport terminal.

Ms Spook prides herself on her diverse artistry and while her exhibition entry was a painting, she is also known for using real-world items to create unique works.

Operating Tiger Moth joy flights in Robe along with her partner, Ms Spook said she was excited to enter the exhibition given the aviation theme is uncommon.

Her time spent in the sky inspired her piece, which provided a bird’s-eye perspective of a natural landscape with a plane’s wing frame also visible.

“It is my interpretation of what it looks like from the air,“ Ms Spook said.

“Its patterns and how it is like a patchwork quilt – there are a lot of things you wouldn’t see if you were travelling by car.“

The judging panel – comprising Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre director Dr Melentie Pandilovski, Country Arts SA arts and culture leader Merilyn DeNys and Thumbprint Inc president Dr Ruth Schubert – praised Ms Spook’s work.

“The portrayal of familiar landscapes, seen from above as in the artist’s painting, and the sophisticated painterly accomplishment by the artist presents us with a compelling artistic sensitivity and provides a dialogue with the viewer into the nature of the artwork as a spatio-temporal and relational experience,“ they said.

Ms Spook said she typically aimed to use any prize money to fund tools and items to help progress her art, or a trip in search of inspiration.

Her latest works will be displayed at Karatta Wine Room and Gallery in Robe over summer, while The Sky’s the Limit will remain on display until March next year.

Speaking at the opening event, Grant District Mayor Richard Sage said the exhibition was organised to showcase Limestone Coast artists and build a community connection with the new airport.

Mr Sage said a People’s Choice Award competition would also be held up until March 19, with the winning artist to receive $250.

In addition to the main awards, Anne Miles, Daniel Roughana and Kirsten Johnson all received high commendations from the judges.


TANTANOOLA artist Libby Altschwager won the $500 printmaking and drawing award for her work titled Coastal Track.

Ms Altschwager’s work was inspired by a particular access road to one of the region’s surf beaches where the trees form a canopy over the thoroughfare.

“When you get in there, the atmosphere is just amazing,“ Ms Altschwager said.

“The trees actually interlock and it has just got this beautiful atmosphere of leaves and birds… it’s beautiful.“

Favouring drawing for her creative expression, Ms Altschwager’s work was hand-drawn before a solar plate etching technique was used to create the final product.

The judges said Ms Altschwager’s work was executed with a deliberate subtlety, “creating depth and intricate texture by presenting an unfolding of a mysterious and beautiful landscape narrative“.


A FOCUS on native plants in recent months helped Mount Gambier artist Anne Miles capture the judges’ attention in the textile and mixed media category, winning a $500 cash prize.

Ms Miles favours drawing and printmaking with her diverse interests paying off in the competition.

The judges said Ms Miles’ piece – Under a Big Sky – represented a vivid exploration of the environment, inspired by the landscape.

“I’ve just been doing a few works with native plants recently and so it just happened and I thought it fit the criteria,“ Ms Miles said.

“The birds and the sky – and just an abstract thought about our world and what’s out there and the mystery.“

Ms Miles was also highly commended for her piece Our World Other World.


MOUNT Gambier contemporary artist Diana Wiseman is $500 richer after claiming the painting category prize.

The Freedom to Soar was created specifically for the exhibition by Ms Wiseman, an artist with over 40 years of experience.

“The painting presents us with a meditative perspective expressed in the ideal landscape in which we entirely lose ourselves,“ the judges said.

“Portraying movement through controlled intensity, questioning thus life and being, in which the perceiver and the perception become fully intertwined.“

Ms Wiseman said she loved working in soft Australian colours, particularly summer tones, and preferred a natural landscape opposed to manmade.

“I thought a lot about the title The Sky’s the Limit and it made me really think of eagles – the freedom they have to just roam the skies and go where they please,“ Ms Wiseman said.

“The Sky’s the Limit means no fences, no boundaries.

“Very often we see eagles soaring above our landscape so that’s what particularly took me and I wanted to depict just that.“