Island to Inland

19. 12. 2016

Still life: perpetual motion

How still is a still life?

The environment that inspires still-life painter Ria Byass, that surrounds her home, is, like Ria, never still, even on days of intense calm.

Ria lives at the apex of D’Estrees Bay where the Southern Ocean has taken a bite out of coast that once belonged to mainland Australia.

She and her environment are alike: ever energetic, sometimes full tilt, and never still. Yet together they are creating still life.

Ria said that the Island to Inland projects is coinciding with a reflective time of her life, when she is leaving a long career in teaching and starting on a new career, as a painter.

‘It has forced me to reflect on being here in isolation at D’Estrees Bay.

‘The word isolation often has a negative connotation but for me isolation has been an enabler. It has enabled me to do so many things, and be a part of so many things, be a part of nature.


Ria said her 25 years at D’Estrees is ‘a long time to be in one spot observing the seasons and the light’.

‘I never get sick of it because it always changes. I am deeply appreciative of things, of the layers of colour and what grows with what. I’m all the time observing the seasons and observing space.

‘I want to paint objects because that’s what excites me as an artist – the fall of light on objects and their arrangements.

‘I want to capture pictorial space because it’s got a lot to do with being down here [at D’Estrees Bay].

Ria’s still life for Island to Inland is three pieces, each a posy, about settling in and living in such an isolated environment.

Hopes and Dreams float above the sea of D’Estrees Bay.


Abandonment is inspired by the Aboriginal woman who walked from Cape Willoughby lighthouse to the Osmanli shipwreck in D’Estrees Bay. ‘She’s the one who saved everyone’s lives yet she remains nameless to us.’

‘Settlement is about settling here and domestic life; it’s about planting the flowers of their original homes, jonquils, pelargoniums and cactus, probably by the women. We are never really isolated from our history and the rest of our lives and family.

‘In thinking about isolation I’ve realised you are never alone; you’ve always got your thoughts and your shadow and your history.’

Ria, her paintings and D’Estrees Bay, are energised with stories that are alive, still.


Kathie Stove


1 Comment

  • Jen Kuperman says:

    Thank you Ria for your beautiful inspiration and your generosity of spirit. Being in your company is always an enriching experience and I walk away from our times together with a little more love on board. Thank you for sharing the treasure you find in your silences. Love always, Jen

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About the Artist

Kathie Stove

Kathie Stove is a Kangaroo Island writer and editor, and advocate for the arts and nature. She was one of the initiators of this project along with CASA Visual Arts Coordinator Eleanor Scicchitano and Art Gallery of South Australia Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Lisa Slade. For seven years until 2013, Kathie wrote a monthly arts page for the Kangaroo Island newspaper, The Islander, and has published a book profiling 27 island artists, Artists of The Art Part. She blogs on nature and art from Kangaroo Island and beyond.

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Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.