Water People Art Exhibition – Victor Harbor

As part of the Winter Whale Fest 2023, there is an art exhibition being held at the Coral Street Art Space in Victor Harbor. This is a group exhibition by eight Fleurieu based artists and includes visual art, sculpture, audio visual, written art and connections to the Ramindjeri / Ngarrindjeri stories of the river and sea in this area.

The opening night was held on Friday 26th of May and kicked off the Winter Whale Fest, which will run for a month with a host of activities on during that time.

This means there is no better time to visit the Fleurieu coast and plan a winter holiday to spot Humpback and Southern Right Whales as they return to these sheltered waters.

The opening night of the art exhibition included an always special, Welcome to Country by Cedric Varcoe, followed by guest speakers Timothy Johnston (special guest Sydney artist and marine conservationist) and the ‘Queen of the Ocean’, Valerie Taylor AM.

Valerie spoke of her many experiences diving in the world’s oceans and helping with marine animal and ocean conservation. Amongst her other accolades, Valerie is an inaugural member of the International Women’s Diving Hall of Fame.

Perhaps a lesser known talent of hers though is her talent as a gifted artist, which was her first career as a young woman. Some of her paintings of marine creatures, real and imagined are part of this exhibition too and they are truly stunning. Paintings of some of the scenes from her children’s book about the adventures of a mermaid named Melody, are absolutely ethereal.

Her work with the study of sharks and documentary making with her late husband Ron Taylor is absolutely legendary and you could have heard a pin drop when this 87 year old, sharp as a tack legend spoke of some of their greatest and most frightening experiences, then took questions from the small crowd hanging onto her every word.  

Timothy and Valerie then spoke of their recent collaborative work in supporting the protection of sea lions on Kangaroo Island and Hopkins Island in South Australia, including raising awareness of their depleting numbers and they are both putting part proceeds of sales from their works towards the Australian Sea Lion Recovery Foundation.

Timothy has also founded CollaborOCEANS, an environmental arts organisation hosting exhibitions, events and campaigns to promote ocean action and celebrate the beauty of the natural world. His artworks depict aerial type views of coasts and oceans and are deeply mesmerising in their details.

As well as beautiful art works to purchase during the whale fest, Valerie Taylor’s film, ‘Playing with Sharks’ is on as a special screening at the Victa Cinema on Sunday 28th of May, another fundraising event for the Australian Sea Lion Recovery Foundation.

Signed copies of Valerie’s autobiography, ‘An Adventurous Life’ and her children’s book ‘Melody the Mermaid: Adventures in the Kingdom of the Sea’, can also be purchased at the Coral Street Art Space.

The Water People exhibition is on at the Coral Art Space, 10 Coral Street Victor Harbor from now until the end of July 2023.



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