This page includes enhanced program notes for the exhibition ‘Weird Adelaide: A Tribute to Barbara Hanrahan’.
Enhanced Program Notes
Hello and welcome to the exhibition ‘Weird Adelaide: A Tribute to Barbara Hanrahan’ held in Mrs Harris’ Shop, Jervois Street, Thebarton as part of the South Australian History Festival, May 2021. My name is Tracy Crisp and in these enhanced program notes, I provide some background information to the exhibition as well as some description of the venue and prints.
General Information about the Exhibition
Weird Adelaide is a collaborative project of 13 artists. The project is a tribute to Barbara Hanrahan’s influence on writing and visual arts in Adelaide. In particular, we have taken inspiration from her article titled ‘Weird Adelaide’ and published in The Adelaide Review in 1988. She ends that article by saying:
Our exhibition and tribute includes a series of short vignettes I have written. They were typeset by Caren Florance and printed in the Stone and Quoin studio with Simone Tippett and Damien Warman. The printmakers were curated by Simone Tippett and Vicki Reynolds. The printmakers are: Bridgitte Williams, Damien Warman; Georgina Willoughby, Izabella Shaw, Jake Holmes, Joshua Searson, Lloma Mackenzie, Lorelei Medcalf, Lucy Timbrell, Sally Heinrich, Simone Tippett, Sue Garrard and Vicki Reynolds. Each printmaker contributed one print inspired by a place or story from Adelaide. The number of artist’s proofs available for sale varies between the artists and each artist has set their own price.
The exhibition is held in Mrs Harris’ Shop which is not far from Barbara Hanrahan’s childhood home which features so strongly in her work. Mrs Harris’ Shop is a gallery located in an old shopfront on a suburban street in Torrensville. It has been operated by three successive generations of women who married into the Harris family. It started life as a general store, but like so many corner shops, the shop closed in 1970. It is now run as a gallery by Jo Harris.
Description of the Gallery
Mrs Harris’ Shop is on a suburban tree-lined street typical of Adelaide’s western suburbs. The front door and shopfront windows are directly on the footpath. In the verge of the footpath close to the road, oregano and mint are growing as ground cover. You can often smell the oregano as people step on it to get back into their car. There is also an agapanthas on the verge.
Facing the shop from the roadside. The door is slightly off-centre to the left and is in a small recess between the two shop windows. A verandah overhangs the footpath, and above the verandah the rest of the wall is painted grey. The top of the front wall is curved with the top of the curve pointed towards the sky then curving down on either side. Under the verandah, he façade of the shop still evokes its origins with the signage painted in gold lettering on the front windows. It reads ‘Gallery’ on one side and ‘Mrs Harris’ Shop’ on the other. Each of the windows is a display window with pressed tin in their top canopies. They each have a light fitting which is Art Deco in style, white and round glass attached to the pressed tin with a stainless steel fitting.
To the left of the gallery is a Little Library. This is a community book exchange. It is a cupboard against the wall with glass doors, a white wooden frame and round brass handles.
Going into the gallery you will step up one small step to open the door. The first door is an aluminium security grille which was added to the shop perhaps in the 1970s or 80s. The second door is the original door, a wooden door with a stained glass feature in the top third. There is another small step into the gallery when the door is opened.
Inside, the gallery is one square room with white painted walls and polished floorboards. A small table is in the centre of the gallery with a chair. On the right hand side of the back wall, another door leads out of the gallery. This door is usually closed. For this exhibition, the prints are hung in one continuous row around the three walls. Each print is unframed and hung by a piece of transparent line hooked into a picture rail which rounds around the gallery.
Starting at the beginning of the left wall, the prints are: When the Rain Stops Falling; The Bin Chicken; The Somerton Man; The Harris Scarfe Cafeteria; SA Museum: The Egyptian Room; The Stack; Lurks, Perks and Shimmering Cockshirts; Adelaide Zoo. Along the back wall is the name ‘Weird Adelaide’ stuck to the wall in vinyl decal then two explanatory prints, one listing the artists and the other the quote from the Weird Adelaide article; the prints then continue with Pink Shorts: Don; Ngangkiparri/Porties; Frangipanis cover the path, the summer after my brother was born; then turning onto the right wall The Murray Bridge Mulyawonk; Weird Ride; The Esplanade, Jan 2020; Dead Man’s Pass; Central Market; Life Catcher; The Magician’s Bunker; Mount Lofty. The artists’ descriptions of their prints can be found here.
In each of the windows is a selection of Barbara Hanrahan’s novels as well as one of her prints which have been loaned to us by the West Torrens Council.
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