Weird Adelaide: A Tribute to Barbara Hanrahan

What we want now in Adelaide are writers and artists who work from the heart of those commonplace suburban streets, who recognise the weirdness of the ordinary, who record it before the version of it we have now is swept away. We want passion and intensity, an art that comes from places like Port Adelaide and Thebarton and Holden Hill; that stays unofficially weird.

Barbara Hanrahan, ‘Weird Adelaide, The Adelaide Review

Moving into text-based art

For many years I have been fascinated with Barbara Hanrahan’s work. Ever since I came across her ‘Weird Adelaide’ article when I was writing this essay for Griffith Review I have been looking for a way to create a work that not only embraces the sentiment in Barbara’s quote above, but also pays tribute to her ongoing influence on writers and printmakers in South Australia.

I asked my long-time blogging friend and letterpress artist and poet Caren Florance whether she would be interested in typesetting and printing my stories for me. She suggested that I get in touch with printmaker and teacher, Simone Tippett to see whether we might be able to do a collaborative project with my written stories shown alongside prints from South Australian printmakers.

Long story short: In May 2021, I was thrilled to be part of the collaborative project Weird Adelaide: A Tribute to Barbara Hanrahan in Mrs Harris Shop, a gallery not far from where Barbara Hanrahan grew up. This February, the show is being exhibited in the Burra Regional Art Gallery alongside their collection of Barbara’s prints as well as some prints on loan from private collections. The show will also include ephemera such as letters from Barbara along with copies of her novels.

Thanks and acknowledgments

This project has been a steep learning curve for me and I am extremely grateful to the following people and organisations who offered support and encouragement to bring this project to life:

Jo Harris at Mrs Harris’ Gallery answered the email I sent out of the blue, and embraced the concept from the very beginning, offering guidance on how to make the most of the exhibition space and opportunity.

It is fair to say that without Caren Florance and Simone Tippett this project would not have come to life. Their time and expertise, their enthusiasm, and their collaborative spirit is at the heart of this project.

Simone and Damien Warman from Stone & Quoin Studio printed my stories, and at the same time let me believe I was helping to print them.

All of the artists who took part in the exhibition, transforming my stories into something much greater than it would have been if I’d gone it alone. Bridgitte Williams, Caren Florance, Damien Warman, Geirguba Willoughby, Izabella Shaw, Jake Holmes, Joshua Searson, Lloma Mackenzie, Lorelei Medcalf, Lucy Timbrell, Sally Heinrich, Simone Tippett, Sue Garrard, Tracy Crisp, Vicki Reynolds.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet through Arts South Australia provided funding through an Independent Arts and Groups project grant. This money allowed me to work part time at my funeral celebrancy work while I wrote the stories that are at the core of the Weird Adelaide project.

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