It is with great sadness that we mark the recent passing of Pamela Kouwenhoven. There will be a public memorial service for her on Saturday, 12 April.
It has been my great honour and pleasure to have known Pamela from my time as Director at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery (2006-2008). I knew from first seeing her work that she was a special and gifted artist. Over the years I also came to call her a good friend, and greatly enjoyed our lengthy discussions about art. She was a warm, generous person with an infectious passion for all that was beautiful in life. In her practice, she was focused and tenacious - she had a clear vision of what her art should be.
The inspiration for her work came from her upbringing on a farm in the dry country of the Eyre Peninsula. In this unforgiving countryside, she learnt to love the land for all that it was, and what it couldn't be for European sensibilities. She loved its great strength and fragility and she understood all too well humankind's place on this earth, and our impact on it.
In the last several years of her life, environmental concerns began to have greater importance to her, and she began to weave the Gaia theory into her work. Pamela's materials were sourced from discarded agricultural equipment like rainwater tanks, fencing wire, malthoid and burnt paper spools. Her passion for collecting her materials knew few bounds, and she was well-known at recycling depots and country dumps throughout the Murraylands! She was known to travel for miles for the perfect rusted tank or sheet of malthoid.
Pamela's works connect with the viewer's sense of wonder, awe and love of the Australian landscape. Numerous times I witnessed people responding at an emotional level to the textural qualities of her assemblages and installations; these works encapsulated the cultural memories carried in all of us who call Australia home. Her work is represented in the Art Gallery of South Australia and university and regional gallery collections nationally.
It was a great privilege to show her work last month in Where lies the Land with Eva Fernandez and Lorraine Connelly-Northey. Pamela saw the exhibition on the day it opened and couldn't have been happier. She was so excited to see her work installed alongside Eva's and Lorraine's and felt the the exhibition spoke strongly of place and our connection to it. We have dedicated the exhibition to her memory.
Pamela is survived by her three children, Tristan, Fran and Tarkus and her three grandchildren. We wish to express our deepest condolences to her family. She will be greatly missed.
May she rest in peace.
- Karen Zadra
Saturday, 12 April, 2-4 pm
Carlton Club, Balhannah Road, Hahndorf
The family has requested that guests wear something that Pamela would like. The Memorial is to be a celebration of Pamela's life.
THE GALLERY WILL BE CLOSED ON SATURDAY, 12 APRIL, UNLESS BY APPOINTMENT IN THE MORNING.