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March 21, 2024

Providing a platform for mid-career artists

Twenty artists will fill the Adelaide Railway Stations’s northeastern concourse with an eclectic exhibition during the Adelaide Festival, and they’ve been paired with writers to tell us about it.

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  • Words: Sharni McPhail and Camillo Malacari
  • Pictures: Sam Roberts

With its hustle and bustle and none of the clean-cut walls of a typical gallery, the Adelaide Railway Station is arguably more Fringe than Festival, but project lead Ray Harris brought Neoterica back to the space after Neoteric in 2022 was a hit.

Neoterica has no binding theme, letting mid-career artists make and develop whatever works excite them.

Ray says that artists are selected based on the interplay between their works, what each brings to the exhibition, and their track record in creating compelling and visually stimulating work in a range of approaches.


This article first appeared in our 2024 Festival edition, which is on streets now.

“I would love to have included every artist, but twenty is a pretty manageable number I think, for a very small independent artist-led project,” Ray elaborates.

Accompanying the exhibition is a printed catalogue, containing images of the artists’ work and written responses from the twenty writers brought on board for this year’s exhibition.

“As an artist, it is really nice to have writing about your work,” Ray says.

“Instead of having artists use writers that have written about them a lot of times, we pair up people that haven’t worked together in that dynamic before.

“The writers learn about different artists, and the artists get a different perspective on their work.”

Artist Gail Hocking and writer Denise Nolasco didn’t know of each other until Neoterica presented them the opportunity to work together.

“It was a really good decision to allow the curators to pair us up, because as an artist you always tend to go back to the same people that you know rather than ones that you don’t know,” Gail says. “Sometimes those connections don’t happen, not on purpose, but you just don’t cross paths.

“A lot of people can write some beautiful essays, but each word that Denise has written has a meaning to connect to the next word and it becomes a whole, and I really love that whole – and the motion of the verse.”

Denise says she felt the same when she was paired with Gail.

“I really connected with Gail’s environmentalism. I’m a big grassroots person, so when I hear somebody fighting for something they believe in, I immediately resonate with that,” Denise says.

The two were connected in October 2023, emailing back and forth until the busy pair met for the first time for an interview with CityMag.

“Gail was overseas researching glaciers, and she sent me a list of quotes and prompts that have been like the hypothesis or topic of her research for the art. And so I sat with that while she was also doing that, which was super helpful,” Denise says.

“It was really organic, and we were kind of just touching base with each other. It didn’t feel like we were sending essays to each other or probing questions. It was more just like here’s me as an open book, take what you will,” Gail says.

Ray says the semi-industrial venue also influences the artists.

“The northeastern concourse of the railway station is not in any way your usual gallery space – some areas of the space are quite busy with things going on with the ceiling or infrastructure of the space,” Rays says.

“A lot of artists are really interested in working in spaces like that because it brings a different quality to their work and how it sits.”


For more Adelaide Festival coverage, head to InReview.

CityMag asks Ray what it’s like to prepare for an exhibition like Neoterica.

“There are a lot of moving parts, deadlines, communication and coordination involved,” Ray responds.

“There are over 60 artists, writers, designers, photographers, project team, install team, and associated people like PR, venue, printing, and the festival to coordinate and manage.”

But she says the most important thing is supporting the artists.

“The project in a nutshell is artists supporting and independently creating opportunities for artists” Ray says.

“This includes paying them a good fee, providing a printed catalogue and website, promoting them on social media, being in the prestigious Adelaide Festival.

“Supporting the arts is key.”

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