Right before dawn breaks, artist Lindy Downing takes her dog Tilly for a walk through the dunes near the Murray Mouth to the coastline. Even though it's dark, there's always something that catches her eye - a squid, a box covered in barnacles, driftwood.
"There are all sorts of treasures that wash up," she says.
The Coorong and Lower Lakes - which are formally recognised as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance - have always been part of Lindy's life; she grew up on 4000 acres of virgin bushland at Meningie, and has called Goolwa home for 30 years. As such, she feels a sense of custodianship of the area - in particular its wildlife - and a duty to educate people about it.
She does this through art, and will be focusing on a theme of the 'Coorong's creatures' at Art@Goolwa's A Decade of Creativity exhibition for this year's South Australian Living Artists (SALA) Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
"It's coming into spring time; a time to celebrate creation," she says.
Among the subjects she'll depict are birds, jumping spiders and swamp rats. She started taking photographs of birds around the Goolwa Channel and Lake Alexandrina more than 20 years ago as their numbers dropped with the Millenium drought.
"I could not imagine the birds being lost; it was a horror," she said.
"I was into painting at the time but I had to swap the paintbrushes for a camera because I just wouldn't have the time to paint everything."
When the water returned in 2010, she continued this work, noting how precious life is and the need to protect and nurture it.
"I do what I do to draw awareness of our creatures; not just birds but all creatures."
She explained how art can drive change in people.
"It helps to generate a curiosity, and from that, awareness, and then a learning, and finally a desire to protect - that's the desired outcome for art," she said.
Lindy was one of the founding members of the Art@Goolwa co-operative, which turned 10 this year.
"It gives me the opportunity to have my work on display and be appreciated by the public, and also have the support of fellow artists in the collective to share the logistics of exhibiting," she said.
The building is an historic Bargeboard Cottage dating back to the 1880s, one of many such buildings used during the construction of the locks on the River Murray and progressively transported down the river, ending up at Goolwa with the construction of the barrages. It was eventually moved to its present site next to the National Trust Museum, restored and used as a meeting place. In 1987 Chris and Judy Crabtree operated a print room/gallery there for many years, followed by a "Wildlife Gallery" showcasing original paintings by Brenda Holden and Kathleen Cain.
Art@Goolwa was born after the Wildlife Gallery closed. The idea to set up a space for local artists came from Carol Coventry, a renown local pastel artist.
Unlike a community gallery which has open membership, Art@Goolwa membership is by selection. It is entirely operated by its members as a not for profit organisation, offering a permanent affordable space to show an eclectic mix of skilled high standard work.
"Our reputation has grown over the years by following the original concept of accepting only high standard of work, featuring a mix of paintings, photography, three dimensional items e.g. glass, ceramics, jewellery, leather, textiles, woodcarving and sculpture/wrought iron work," secretary Irma Denk said.
"The 6000 or so visitors each year are testament to the contribution A@G makes to the community and local tourism."
SALA is Australia's largest open access visual arts festival. This year's festival will include more than 600 venues and 9000 artists.
Alongside the individual events, there will be a SALA Hub at the Queen's Theatre from August 17-21 featuring a special 25th anniversary exhibition, a five-day drawing marathon, walking tours, masterclasses and workshops.
SALA Festival runs from August 1-31.
Click here for more information.
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