a. Expressions of Interest for the 2018 Sculpture Biennial


Dear Artists

You are invited to submit an Expression of Interest to participate in the Eighth Palmer Sculpture Biennial. The exhibition will be open for the four weeks from March 17th to April 8th 2018 and will be an item in the Adelaide Festival Fringe. It will be curated by myself and Robert Lindsay, former Director of McClelland Museum, Victoria. About twenty four artists will participate from South Australia, interstate and overseas, including an invited senior artist and two emerging artists.

Since they first started in 2004, the Palmer Sculpture Biennials have been steadily gathering momentum. The emphasis is on quality, not the size of the exhibition. 2016 was a wonderful year. The event was attended by almost 1,000 visitors. It won the Bank SA Award for Best Visual Art and Design at the Adelaide Festival Fringe, and one of the participating works was sold to a major sculpture collection. The event is now recognised nationally as one of the most significant presentations of contemporary sculpture. This is reflected by increased media attention; good examples are the recent Artlink review written by Tracey Lock, and the current review in the international Sculpture Magazine written by Ken Scarlett. Ken`s review is devoted to the works displayed at Palmer and to a separate exhibition at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains.

I look forward to receiving your submissions for 2018.


Greg Johns.


The Palmer Landscape

The small township of Palmer sits at the base of the hills which terminate in the eastern escarpment of the Mount Lofty Ranges, from where the land slopes towards the River Murray. This region is the edge of the Mallee country. Its hills are semi-arid with spacious undulations, rocky outcrops and views of distant horizons.  The indigenous flora of the area has been almost entirely cleared since European settlement, leaving just patches of remnant vegetation. The traditional custodians of country are the Peramangk and the area has a rich Aboriginal history.  It is now used mostly for mixed farming, cropping and grazing.


The Palmer Project

In 2001 Adelaide sculptor Greg Johns purchased a 400 acre property in the Palmer Hills, about 70 km east of Adelaide. Greg’s intention for the property is to undertake its ecological rehabilitation and to display a collection both of his own works and of a range of other contemporary sculpture. The Landscape is now much closer to its pre-European state than it used to be, and the resulting  terrain, so reminiscent of landscapes in Australia’s vast semi-arid areas, is a potent setting for art works that are sensitive to place. The Palmer Project allows sculpture and environment to illuminate each other, and in so doing it reflects the broader range of issues relating to art and ecological and social sustainability.

Palmer Sculpture Biennial

Commencing in 2004, seven Biennial Exhibitions have been held in the Palmer Landscape and the event has become recognised as a leading contemporary sculpture exhibition.  The last Biennial won the award for Best Visual Art and Design at the Adelaide Festival Fringe. Previous Biennials have received an Advertiser Oscart for best outdoor exhibition, four SA Great nominations in the categories of art and science/environment and an Adelaide Fringe award for best group visual arts exhibition during the Adelaide Fringe.  Visitor numbers are now in the vicinity of 1,000 and increased media attention and promotional initiatives are expected to draw even larger numbers in 2018.

The Biennial has received significant publicity at both state and national levels. It is also established internationally as an event of high quality, artists from England, Germany, Holland and Sweden making a valuable contribution and complementing the work of the Australian artists.

The opening event has become a particular attraction, incorporating food, wine, speeches and veranda music in addition to the unique experience of engaging with works of sculpture against the background of the Palmer hills. The Biennial receives private sponsorship which has enabled the production of a high quality catalogue and to meet some other overhead costs, and it is expected this will continue. Artists meet all costs involved with exhibiting their works (including travel). Works can be made available for sale (20% commission applies) and significant sales have occurred.

The Palmer Sculpture Biennial is and will remain an artist run event. The mutual support surrounding the event has been enjoyed by everyone and is a major contributor to its success. There is an ‘artist’s award’ for the best works based on peer recognition for which the artists contribute $10 each. Artists will be asked to take part in a staffing roster while the Biennial is open and other organisational activities, for instance opening-day catering, publicity and promotion etc.

Bill Clifford (contact details below) is assisting Greg in the administration of the Palmer Project and will be coordinating the exhibition.


What Interested Artists Need to Know

about the Palmer Landscape

Ambiance:  Seen against the rugged vegetation and the expanse of landform and skyscape, works at Palmer stand out with a unique authority not to be found in galleries. In this setting, they may also look smaller than they do in a studio or suburban environment. At the same time, smaller intimate works have often engaged with the landscape very successfully.

Winds: Works need to be well anchored and able to withstand strong winds which are not uncommon at the Palmer Landscape.

Water: While the annual rainfall at Palmer is comparatively low, sudden downpours, although infrequent, may occur at any time of year. Water-soluble materials are therefore not advisable unless intended for ephemeral works.

Heat: Although the Biennial takes place in early autumn, heatwaves are still possible,  so artworks need to be able to withstand possible temperatures of around 40°C.


Expression Requirement

 The requirement to express interest in the event is to submit of a concept outline with supporting drawing/documentation on an A4 page/s after a visit to the site. Interstate/overseas artists should discuss alternatives to this requirement with Greg.  Times will be arranged for artists who haven’t already been to Palmer to visit in groups, and to register for this please contact us. Submissions can be made by email to palmersculpturebiennial@gmail.com, or by mail to Bill Clifford, 1 Elizabeth Street, Oakbank, South Australia 5243.

Please ensure that your expression of interest includes your name, postal address, email address and phone contact numbers. Expressions of Interest are required by Thursday 1st June, 2017. We will advise participation as soon as practicable after then.

Images of previous works may be viewed at http://www.palmersculpturebiennial.org

For further information, please contact Greg by email (gjoh4899@bigpond.net.au) or phone (08) 8278 3273; or Bill by email (jandbclifford@internode.on.net) or phone (08) 8398 0868.  You may also visit our website, palmersculpturebiennial.org.


Greg Johns and Bill Clifford   January 2017



Sign up for our Newsletter

If you would like to be included in the mail-out and kept up to date about coming events, please email us at palmersculpturebiennial@gmail.com and ask to be put on the list for our newsletter.


“PALMER BIENNIAL….. is like no other! Big skies, big scapes. An environment that challenges the perception of relationships, of art in landscape. To intrude on an ancient land with a sacred history is Palmer. This needs a particular intellectual sensitivity with a real message.”

                         Graeme Wilkie    –    Founder of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale

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