Desert to Dunes – CASA touring exhibition, with drawings by Ken Pickard and porcelain by Val de Vries

An artistic journey from the far west coast of SA

The exhibition Desert to Dunes is was on display from January 12 until February 8, 2012.

This exhibition from Country Arts SA -Visual Arts Touring Program, is a significant collaboration by Aboriginal artists from the Wangka Wilurrara region of South Australia.

The idea for the exhibition originated at a meeting of West Coast and Far West Coast artists held in Ceduna in mid-2009.  At the meeting artists from Kuju Aboriginal Arts & Crafts (Port Lincoln), Tjujtjuna (Ceduna) Aboriginal Arts & Cultural Centre, Scotdesco, Koonibba, and the Far West communities of Oak Valley and Yalata came together to discuss the need to promote the artwork being developed across the region – and the idea of a joint exhibition was born.

The Wangka Wilurrara region is a multi-cultural hub of indigenous people from all across Australia, with different traditions and styles, which combined, makes this exhibition an unique one.

The exhibition captures the changing landscape of this vast area, from the red of the desert to the sandy white dunes of the Eyre Peninsula, whilst also highlighting the different artistic styles found across the region from traditional ‘Country’ to the evolving and dynamic contemporary styles evident in remote communities.

Throughout the history of Aboriginal people, art has played a vital role in the continuation of culture and knowledge by way of recording the past and the future, a means of communication, orientation and passing down traditions to the next generation. From Ochre to paints, earth to canvas, today the artwork is created in different mediums and styles, although the meanings are still the same.

Artworks have been created using mediums including impasto mixtures on canvas to add texture and movement to the work, whilst the more traditional acrylic on canvas brings stories and ‘Dreaming’ to the exhibition.

Rob Johnston, Country Arts SA’s Visual Arts Touring Manager says of the exhibition “This exhibition is a significant advance for promoting the work created in this region. I am struck by the professionalism of the artwork displayed, the varied and new thematic subject matter and the fantastic quality of the exhibition presentation”.

Bud Stephenson echoes this praise with his comment “I am a mid north painter exhibiting my works in Burra’s upcoming Regional Art Gallery showing “Landscape of the Flinders Ranges, Riverland & Mid North”. Upon entry into this beautiful space I was completely put on the back foot by the amazing work from artists both indigenous & local showing in the current “Desert to Dunes Exhibition”. Oxygen was sucked up in the room by the talent, vibrancy & power of the work. Underpinned with very, very reasonable prices.”

Desert to Dunes showcases the talented emerging and established Aboriginal artists living in the region, providing an opportunity for the communities, artists and art centres involved to come together and share stories, culture and traditions and to plan for future development, exposure and recognition of Aboriginal Art from the region.

Desert to Dunes is a presentation of Country Arts SA’s Visual Arts Touring Program, which provides regional South Australian communities access to the highest quality visual art, craft and design exhibitions available. For more information and a full tour itinerary go to

Christine Tschuna, Illusion Trees, 890 x 860mm, acrylic on canvas

Christine Tschuna’s “Illusion Trees”: the young and old leaves, twisted trunks and light coming hard at you.

Elizabeth Ryan, Waterhole at Midnight, 1190 x 995mm, acrylic on canvas

Elizabeth Ryan, Wild Flowers after the Gabi (Rain), 500 x 600mm, acrylic on canvas

Verna Lawrie, Dried Salt Lakes, 1035 x 845mm, acrylic on canvas

Jillian Larking-Sea Sponge

Jillian Larking’s organic “Sea Sponge” – spots and dots with splashes and swirls, and the colour! – bubbly browns and greens, each tiny cell of life marked sharply with black on white.

Veronica Stafford-Conniston Station Massacre

Veronica Stafford’s heavyweight painting “Conniston Station Massacre” with its dramatic arrangement of the reds and blacks of fear and aggression;

Amanda Franklin-Shifting Sands

“Shifting Sands” by Amanda Franklin “represents the red ochre sand dunes and the patterns left behind from the winds and rains that cross this rolling land”.

Jenny Rickett’s impasto painting “Journey”, is a tale of survival, her family’s Dreaming.

“Bushfire” skillfully portrayed in abstract form;

The very special “Women’s Ceremony” of fine white dots in intricate lines on black: “The women dance around the symbols on the ground and when the ceremony is complete the symbols are covered with dirt.”

Evan Hawke

Our resident poet, Evan Hawke, produced this poem for the opening night.


Sand, gritty particles

Invade spaces seldom seen


A halo on the coastline

Inland seas of sand


Enough to make and fill

A gazillion eggtimers

(Never to run out!)


Sand the stuff that holds

Plants, trees and grass


When the wind blows

It cuts and shines


Sand traps and hides

Sand fights the tides


Fishes dishes

Into the camel’s hump


Lumps of sand

Colours of rainbows


Precipitation sorts and strains

Sands and stains and shifts

The wind whispers, sand…


© Evan Hawke

(January 2012)


Also showing in the Bence room are drawings by Ken Pickard and porcelain by Val de Vries.

A serendipitous combination made specially for Burra Gallery, the smallness of the works magically melding with detail in restrained imagery and simple forms – a must see (and have).

Let’s look a little deeper into the Bence Room and acknowledge it as the heart of Burra Gallery. In it our local artists follow their own pathway, producing works that reflect the local region and their individual art practice.

Clare artist Val de Vries has made up a collection that takes your breath away. The finest dotting with deep blues, greens or blacks on a variety of white porcelain objects – the ones on plates have the gravity of mandalas – intricate designs reminiscent of universal subjects, even though the works are small.

We have displayed the works on one of the big old oak tables lent to the gallery by Burra National Trust.

Val de Vries – Porcelain & Ken Pickard – Pen and Ink Drawings

Ken Pickard’s fine line drawings hang in the Bence Room and a selection will continue to be exhibited in the gallery entry.

His work deserves the honour. Visitors to the gallery may not have realised that they are seeing the historic Goyder town of Terowie through the eyes of one who has lived and worked there for the last 30 years.

Decrepitude and decay are fine subjects and attract the artist’s eye, bringing them to life one last time. They are the tragic remains of family farms, the life’s work of those who optimistically took up land in the area from the latter part of the 19th Century, against the advice of SA surveyor-general George W. Goyder. The story of Goyder’s Line is engraved on the heart of every South Australian.

Ken Pickard – pen drawing

Ken Pickard – Broken Window – Pen & Ink

Val de Vries – Porcelain – Blue Enamel Cylinder Vase – Georgia

Val de Vries -Porcelain-10 inch Plate Margaret Design for Campbelltown 2011

Val de Vries – Porcelain – French Black Green 9 inch Plate

Val de Vries porcelain

Val de Vries Porcelain Plates

Val de Vries Porcelain


Here is Val de Vries’ thank you:
“I would like to thank you and your Volunteers for a wonderful afternoon yesterday at the Exhibition Opening.  My husband and I were absolutely delighted with the way you had set the Plates out on the long table, and on the Mantelpiece, and we had many lovely compliments from the guests re the set-up too.I felt very privileged to share the Exhibition with Ken, as his penwork is second to none, and the Aboriginal Art was an absolute joy to see.My guests came from far and wide, most of them enjoying their first visit to the Burra Regional Art Gallery, and I know for certain that if and when they visit Burra again, a visit to the Gallery will definitely be on their “must do” agenda.I feel very privileged to have been asked to take part in the Exhibition and want to thank you very sincerely for all you have done towards making it possible.”
We at the gallery encourage you to come and visit and be part of the many admirers of these complementary works.

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  1. Eric (31st, Dec 2017)

    When is the Desert to Dunes Exhibition to be held (or when was it held)? Your information does not include a year. Thanks.

  2. Kerry (2nd, Jan 2018)

    Hi Eric,
    I have amended the date to include the year, 2012