According to Balhannah-based sculptor, Silvio Apponyi, art is a balancing act – but when done right it can also be a catalyst for conversation and community.

Known throughout South Australia for producing captivating community sculptures, Silvio – who has been sculpting for over 40 years – says his work is inspired by Australian fauna and just a little bit of magic.

“Art is an insurmountable thing, if you walk into a house with no art it can feel empty and soulless, in contrast if you walk into a house that’s filled to the brim with art and knick-knacks it can be overwhelming – it’s all about getting the balance right,” Silvio said.

“Sculpture is something very different, it’s more about community and conversation – it provides a space for people to gather, and a talking point for ongoing discussion.”

Providing that talking point is what inspired Silvio to join Springlake in producing a unique sculpture out of a fallen old red gum on the property.

“It’s been a real privilege to work with such a beautiful old tree – the focus was to create a magical play space for children in the community to discover and enjoy with their families,” Silvio said.

“We were originally thinking of carving the wood into a dragon, but once positioned overlooking the lake and wetlands, it only seemed fitting to carve an aquatic creature, with a host of Australian fauna coming along for the ride.”

As Silvio’s sculpture sits within Springlake’s nature play area, it has been designed with the local environment and children in mind.

“Childhood is about discovery and it’s been great to design interactive pieces where children can discover little surprises, hidden objects and textures to play with,” Silvio said.

Silvio says he has enjoyed working alongside his friend and protege, Ngarrindjeri artist, Robert Wuldi, who created a sculpture of a mother and child for the Springlake community.

A collective art experience

From interactive sculptures for children, to inspiring works of art, Springlake’s Lakehouse will soon be home to an exciting new gallery space, with a range of artworks and homewares from local Adelaide Hills artists.

Littlehampton-based artists and friends, Tabitha Eades and Nicola Courtman, have joined forces to curate the gallery, which will feature works from a range of Adelaide Hills artists.

“We met through our art so we know how connective it can be, and how common interests can really draw people together,” Tabitha said.

“I’ve always loved crafting, sketching and painting but really fell into my commission work after I was approached by a woman to paint her dog – nine years later, I’ve painted dogs from all over Australia and continue to connect with a broad range of people because of my work.”

Nicky also started out as a dog portrait artist, but when she moved to the Adelaide Hills from the west-midlands in England ten years ago, she began developing a looser style of painting inspired by the local environment.

“I took some time out from painting when I had my children and although modern/abstract is my recognised style of painting, when I discovered Tabitha’s portraits online I was inspired to attempt portraiture again,” Nicky said.

“When I emailed Tabitha to tell her how much I admired her work, we realised we were both living in the Adelaide Hills, just a few kilometres away from one another – we’ve been friends ever since.”

Both involved with the Hills Art Collective – a group of local artists who organise exhibitions and workshops in the Adelaide Hills – Tabitha said that when she was approached by Springlake to be a part of their Lakehouse gallery, she thought of Nicky straight away.

“It’s an opportunity I jumped at, but knowing that two heads are always better than one I asked Nicky to join me as a co-curator of the space,” Tabitha said.

“While the Hills Art Collective is very separate to the Lakehouse gallery, we are fortunate to have a great network of local artists to call on to exhibit at the Lakehouse.”

Being a residential neighbourhood, Nicky said they are going to great lengths to find functional pieces from local artists, that people can use in their homes.

“There are so many versatile talents in the Hills community, from ceramics, to textiles, to mosaics to name but a few, the list is endless,” Nicky said.

“We want the Lakehouse Gallery to feature artwork that is functional so we don't just exhibit paintings, we have homewares as well.”

As a way of bringing people in the community together, Nicky and Tabitha are also planning on holding workshops with local artists at the gallery throughout the year.

“When you move to a new area one of the best ways to meet people is to get involved in community events, so we want to make the gallery a welcoming environment for those new to the Hills to come together and discover art, or even exhibit their own works,” Tabitha said.

“It’s been a wonderful journey so far, and is a real privilege to be involved with such a positive, community-oriented neighbourhood like Springlake.”