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June 27, 2024

This new art is sowing connections with First Nations

In Lee Salomone’s Porter Street Commission at Adelaide Contemporary Experimental, a metaphorical garden has taken over the gallery floor, finding new connections between First Nations and migrant cultural practices.

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  • Image 1: Studio Visit: Lee Salomone's studio (2024). Photography by Peter Fong.
  • Image 2: Lee Salomone. Photography by Rosina Possingham.
  • This article was produced in collaboration with Adelaide Contemporary Experimental.

Fragments; a widening vision is the first major institutional exhibition from artist Lee Salomone in more than a decade. The recipient of the 2024 Porter Street Commission, in this poetic installation he brings together memory, identity and a profound connection to the land.

The work is grounded in intergenerational learning, acknowledging First Nations Country and offering insights into the settler colonial experience. The installation is envisaged as a metaphorical garden, tended by elders, family and educators, and proposes a site for growth and reflection.

Lee’s sculptural practice is distinctive, involving bronze casting and the recalibration of found objects and natural materials.

Describing his creative process, Lee says it always begins with found objects.


Fragments; a widening vision runs from June 1–August 10, 2024 at Adelaide Contemporary Experimental,  located in the Lion Arts Centre, North Terrace.

“If listened to, these physical fragments carry stories,” he says.

“I had already commenced collecting, not necessarily knowing how they would be transformed, nor that they were going to be used for the Porter Street Commission.”

His engagement with First Nations included a field trip to understand firsthand the ongoing impacts of white settlement on their peoples and dive deeper into First Nations culture.

“I was fortunate to be able to stay in the APY Lands, volunteering at Ninuku Arts, Kalka, while residing at Pipalyatjara,” he shares. “During the 2023 Nature Festival in Tarndanya, I participated in eight First Nations workshops as a way to understand further.”

He sought advice, including on protocols, from Kaurna leaders and elders including Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien and Karl Winda Telfer, and from Barkindji woman and polymath Nici Cumpston.


The Porter Street Commission annually awards $20,000 to a South Australian artist at any stage of their career. Find out more here.

Fragments; a widening vision, Lee says “references the absence and presence of knowledge fragments that are lost and gained when knowledge pathways are altered by immigration, colonisation and assimilation”.

Lee is of Italian-Australian heritage and by embedding allegory and narrative into his pieces, he creates new connections between migrant histories and the enduring cultural practices of First Nations people.

He says in his own family’s experience, assimilation has occurred slowly.

“Fragments of knowledge are lost as one generation passes, and it is replaced by the new experiences we are acquiring on this land now. Land is fundamental to all who inhabit this country – soil contains memories, stories, and is reshaping us all,” Lee says.

Rayleen Forester. Photography by Thomas McCammon.

The Porter Street Commission supports the development of one South Australian artist at an important stage in their career trajectory. ACE associate curator Rayleen Forester thinks it is a work that audiences should see.

“For this iteration, Lee Salomone has pushed his practice to better understand how to live and work on First Nations Country,” Rayleen says. “This beautiful large-scale installation … is a triumphant return to practice for Lee and exemplifies ACE’s commitment to South Australian artists.”

Rayleen’s personal response to the work also underscores its great impact and significance.

“I have a great sense of humbleness and spirit when walking through Fragments; a widening vision,” she says. “Lee is a thoughtful artist, always listening and recalibrating his materials to better understand the form, and in turn, himself.”

“Each piece touches on a personal history and story that Lee is welcoming us into. Its a truly special presentation for ACE.”

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