‘Deaf Gain’ showcases signs of great art

Posted 10 months ago by David McManus
Artwork by Gonketa in Melbourne’s Rainbow Alley. [Source: Nicole Reed via UniSA]
Artwork by Gonketa in Melbourne’s Rainbow Alley. [Source: Nicole Reed via UniSA]

In 2023, the theme for National Week of Deaf People will be ‘A world where deaf people can sign anywhere.

Key points:

  • National Week of Deaf People will span September 18 – 24, 2023
  • International Week of the Deaf will begin September 20 – 26
  • ‘Deaf Gain’ is a showcase of pride and the creative vision of talented artists who are a part of the deaf or hard-of-hearing community
  • The free exhibition is open weekdays until September 27 at the University of South Australia’s Kerry Packer Civic Gallery


Adelaide’s reputation as the ‘Festival City’ has continued to grow — kicking off National Week of Deaf People with a range of cutting-edge and contemporary artists descending on UniSA’s Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre.

The ‘Deaf Gain’ exhibition hosts a wide range of art from Victorian and South Australian members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.

Adelaide artist and curator Williams Maggs said the display will empower more deaf artists to express themselves through art and create essential conversations about the future of the deaf community.

“Living as a deaf person can be quite exhausting — deaf people often have pent-up anger or frustration and have no space to express themselves,” Mr Maggs said.

“I often feel like I am the only deaf artist in Adelaide, despite having a range of people who do different mediums, performances and can express Auslan language [sic].

“Picking up artists from Melbourne for ‘Deaf Gain’ has given us the opportunity to meet other deaf artists and be empowered by their wealth of knowledge. This has reignited the light inside of me.”

Luke Duncan King’s installation ‘I am a…’ 2018 Solo Exhibition. [Source: Abigail Varney]

The artists include South Australians Scott Pyle and Melissa Keller — both Tutti Arts, as well as Samantha Wilson and William Maggs, Jas Shirrefs, Luke Duncan King [above], Gonketa, Chelle Destefano and Ravi Vasavan, who are from Victoria.

The Deaf Butterfly Effect is a sponsoring partner of the exhibition, which boasts a multitude of different mediums and modes of expression, such as sculptures, paintings and photography.

Maggs said he hopes ‘Deaf Gain’ will bring the community together to create connections and social opportunities for deaf people.

“Ever since the deaf social club closed in South Australia, the community has no place to go to socialise and to make new friends,” he added.

“The deaf community fell apart into their own space [sic] or smaller social circles, with new NDIS businesses competing over deaf people. 

“We are seen as a client rather than human beings, who absolutely need a deaf-friendly space. This art exhibition hopes to bring varying groups together and to create important conversations about the future of the deaf community.”

The artists will visit Adelaide for special events during the National Week of Deaf People, with several opportunities to meet and learn from their experiences.

In 2023, the theme for National Week of Deaf People will be ‘A world where deaf people can sign anywhere.’ The message coincides with ongoing concerns from Expression Australia ahead of the Voice to Parliament referendum.

For more information about ‘Deaf Gain,’ please visit the University of South Australia website to plan your attendance ahead of time. Do you plan on attending? If so, let the team at Talking Disability know what you thought.