21 January – 22 March 2022

Location: Adelaide Town Hall, Mankurri-api Kuu (Reconciliation room) and First Floor Gallery, 128 King William Street, Adelaide

Featuring: Michelle Driver, Kate Little, Annette McRae, Monika Morgenstern, Mark Niehus, Sue Ninham, Olga Sankey, Kasia Tons, Iteka Ukarla and Amanda Westley  

Curated by Ann-Marie Green

Scholar Lois Bloom defines language, somewhat paradoxically, as a ‘conventional system of arbitrary signals’ that form a code whereby ideas about the world are expressed. Although art does not always use conventional systems for communication, it is responsible for a range of communicative experiences and is comfortable with multiple readings. Art can tell us stories, explain concepts, propose ideas, and evoke emotions. Art, as a predominantly visual language, usually has something to say. 

Sue Ninham’s work tells stories informed by writing, imagery, and personal experience. Likewise Kasia Tons examines personal experiences through the lenses of mental health, technology, and connection to the environment in her complex textile constructions.  

Emerging Aboriginal artists Iteka Ukarla and Amanda Westley investigate relationships with place, Iteka combining familiar landscapes with culturally significant symbols, and Amanda communicating her family’s long relationship to the southern coastal region. Annette McRae also explores the complexities of family relationships through an intricate textile composition alluding to the secrets and lies families keep.  

Printmaker Olga Sankey probes the duality between image and text, combining textual fragments with appropriated imagery. Weaver Michelle Driver also references other image sources. asking us to interpret handwoven anatomical x-rays in her work connected to medicine, technology, and craft. Similarly, Kate Little uses grids, graphs, and mathematical systems to make sense of the world.  

Mark Niehus depicts life in the contemporary urban landscape using moving images, poetry, and text. While in comparison, Monika Morgenstern’s vibrating threshold images invite the viewer out of the present and into a liminal world, where perception, psychological analysis, and interpretation of colour are carriers of meaning. 

Together, the artists invite us to unpack art as a visual language of exterior, interior and liminal landscapes, via found and constructed images, text and symbols. 

Art as a Visual Language is presented at the Adelaide Town Hall as part of ART WORKS Emerging Curator Program and is delivered by Guildhouse in partnership with the City of Adelaide. 


Adelaide Town Hall is an accessible venue.

Images (L-R): Olga Sankey, Futura Bold, 2013. Image courtesy the artist.