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History of the State Library of South Australia: Foyer artworks

Details the Library's interesting history from 1834, its buildings, legislation, Board membership, staff and exhibitions.

Glass foyer artworks

The foyer artwork is a multi faceted artwork designed to be experienced spatially, moving over, under and around the elements. It offers different insights over time as visitors re-experience the work at different times. The artwork reflects a key function of the Library, the transmission and communication of knowledge, and comprises two elements:

  • welcome greeting in Kaurna language, carved into a stone placed at the entry to the building
  • bulkhead text, seen from outside the building and in the foyer.

Textile artist, community art worker and head of the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia, Kay Lawrence AM, and graphic designer, John Nowland, were the commissioned artists for the glass entry artwork, which was supported financially by a major commission grant from Arts SA. Fabrication was by Kay Lawrence, John Nowland, Sandy Elverd, Mark Hazeldine, Greg Healey, Tony Kearney, Tai Ping Carpets.
Acknowledgments to ArtsSA, John Nowland Design, Pamille Berg Consulting, MGT Canberra Architects + Hassell Pty Ltd, Built Environs Pty Ltd, South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia, Uncle Lewis O'Brien, Adam Carpenter, ArtLab, Yvonne Nowland, Nici Cumpston.

Kaurna Greeting Stone

Kaurna elder Lewis O'Brien of Adelaide prepared a greeting message carved in a spiral design into a large slab of Kanmantoo bluestone, placed at the entry to the building which reads:

'Munara ngai wanggandi marni na budni Kaurna yertaanna, worttangga marni na budni State Library of South Australia. Ngaityo yungandalya ngaityo yakkanandalga padliadlu wadu.'

First I welcome you all to my Kaurna country, and next I welcome you to the State Library of South Australia. My brothers, my sisters, let's walk together in harmony.'

Bulkhead text

Bulkhead text

The relief text on the entry bulkhead uses words from an essay by Kiera Lindsay

      we speak, read and write ourselves into being

The text refers to the role of language in the construction of both the self and society. 'Language in all its forms, speech, sign and text, not only enables communication and the transmission of knowledge, but also plays a key role in how we construct our sense of who we are as individuals and as a society. (From Kiera Lindsey, 'Creative Cartographies: An Interview with Paul Carter', Siglo4: Writing Landscapes, [Conference] Hobart, March 1995.