Image: Carly Snoswell, Good Job, The Popeye, 2023. Photograph Sam Roberts

For the first time in its 88-year history, one of Adelaide’s iconic Popeye boats will become a floating work of art, receiving a unique artistic and lighting makeover in time for festival season.

The James and Diana Ramsay Foundation has commissioned local artist Carly Snoswell to create the artwork in celebration of the 100th anniversary of James Ramsay’s birth, featuring colour, sequins, stars and lighting, which will illuminate across Karrawirra Pari (the River Torrens) at night.

In partnership with Guildhouse, The Popeye, and The City of Adelaide, the Foundation was looking for a unique way to celebrate the anniversary while providing a significant opportunity for a local artist to engage South Australian and visitor audiences with an inspiring artistic experience.

Executive Director Kerry de Lorme said the commission celebrated James and Diana’s special relationship with South Australia and the visual and performing arts throughout their lives, a connection that continues through the Foundation’s work.

“James and Diana were known supporters of the arts community and of South Australia in general,” Ms de Lorme said. “Every South Australian knows the Popeye, and visitors will want to take a look at the artwork both outside and inside the boat, and marvel at its stars as they light the river at night”.

“Diana and James liked to take a risk in promoting the arts, and they would have loved to see this local artist supported with such a prominent piece of art, which all South Australians can enjoy.”

Ms Snoswell’s floating artwork, Good Job, is a celebration of simple daily pleasures and accomplishments, basking in the nostalgia of the iconic Popeye along Karrawirra Pari. The work features gold stars, a symbol of a job well done, epitomising the small achievements in people’s lives and the happy moments, turning those tiny glimmers into giant wins.

Ms Snoswell worked in consultation with Kaurna and Narungga man Jack Buckskin of Kuma Kaaru Cultural Services to realise the artwork’s references to Kaurna language and culture. She said stars held significant meaning to Kaurna language and culture.

The river, a mirror of the Milky Way, sparkles with reflected stars in the natural landscape. ‘Marngu-marngu’, or ‘speckled’, highlights the many circles of the stars, the glimmering reflection of the water, and in this case, the sequins which bring the artwork together. The artwork can also play tricks on the mind and draw the audience in to take new notice of the Popeye, unabashedly proud and joyous on the Karrawirra Pari.

She said working on the project, which was about celebration and joy, was very special.

“It’s been exciting and challenging to visualise my work in a large scale, public artwork format, which as a textile artist is quite different to how I normally work,” Ms Snoswell said.

“It’s a privilege to be given the opportunity to explore my work in this way, which I would not have been able to do without the support of this project, Guildhouse, and the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation. Being able to realise my work in such large-scale, high-profile way is something I’ve always dreamt of.”

The artwork was delivered by Guildhouse and received support from the City of Adelaide Reignite project, with input from Graphic Designer Jenna Pippett, lighting by Taylor Chadwick at light-ctrl, vinyl by Visualcom, and Double Diamond as fabrication contractors.

Media Contact: Verity Edwards at Hughes PR on 0412 678 942
Read full media release here.

Images: Carly Snoswell, Good Job, The Popeye, 2023. Photographs Sam Roberts