To celebrate the 100th anniversary of philanthropist James Ramsay’s birth, the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation has commissioned local artist Carly Snoswell to transform an iconic Popeye boat on the River Torrens into a work of art.

The project saw the Foundation partner with Guildhouse, The Popeye and The City of Adelaide to create a unique way of celebrating the anniversary while providing a new opportunity for visiting audiences to engage with.

“James and Diana were known supporters of the arts community and of South Australia in general,” said the Foundation’s executive director, Kerry de Lorme.

“Every South Australian knows the Popeye, and visitors will want to take a look at the artwork both outside and inside the boat and marvel at its stars as they light the river at night.

“Diana and James liked to take a risk in promoting the arts, and they would have loved to see this local artist supported with such a prominent piece of art, which all South Australians can enjoy.”

The Popeye I has been applied with a non-permanent vinyl wrap of colour, sequins and stars designed by Carly Snoswell, that includes a lighting element to bring the work to life at night.

Working in consultation with Kaurna and Narungga man, Jack Buckskin of Kuma Kaaru Cultural Services, Snoswell’s artwork, named Good Job, references Kaurna language and culture.

Snoswell said stars have a significant meaning to Kaurna language and culture, with the river acting as a mirror of the Milky Way sparkling with reflected stars in the natural landscape.

“’Marngu-marngu’, or ‘speckled’, highlights the many circles of the stars, the glimmering reflection of the water, and in this case, the sequins which bring the artwork together,” Snoswell said.

“The artwork can also play tricks on the mind and draw the audience in to take new notice of the Popeye, unabashedly proud and joyous on the Karrawirra Pari.”

The newly decorated Popeye I launched on February 24 and will operate as usual while donning the artwork for the next 12 months.

Words: Elisabeth Marie
Image: Verity Edwards