'Put your hat on and Come with me' is written in white cursive writing on a blue background. It is sandwiched between the words SALA 2016 on the left while Better for life is on the right.

2016 SALA Exhibition; Put on your hat and come with me - Southern Cross Care SALA Arts Project Exhibition was held at The State Library of South Australia, in The Hub during August 2016.

The exhibition was a celebration of art and creative expression at any age; with workshops resulting in a collection of photography, drawings, paintings, storybooks and cartoon sketches depicting various aspects and memories of hats.

The way you wear your hat,
The way you sip your tea,
The mem’ry of all that,
No, no!
They can t take that away from me!

Shall we Dance, by Gershwin

The individual SALA projects, as art directed by Mary Freer, were produced across Southern Cross Care’s residential care sites through their Lifestyle programs, and resulted in a collection of photography, drawings, paintings, storybooks and/or cartoon sketches depicting various aspects and memories of “hats”. It was the result of turning these works into art form which was the basis of the final showcase exhibition.

Why hats?

Hats have been around for a very long time. It is impossible to say when the first animal skin was pulled over a head as protection against the elements and although this was not a hat in the true sense, it was realised that covering your head could sometimes be an advantage. Since their invention, hats have come and gone as status symbols, uniforms and fashion statements as well as being functional sports and protective headgear. They capture many memories for people, from all walks of life. Residents are currently creating their art forms through reminiscing about for example, their favourite hat that blew away, the time they had to eat their hat or come with their hat in their hand, and basically interpreting the “hat” theme in their own way.

Case Studies

The art foms are evolving as we type. Emerging are the themes of;

  1. Connecting - Knitting the community (Lourdes)
  2. Intergenerational – stories with children (Mt Carmel)
  3. Moments - Jack’s Life (Fullarton)
  4. Purpose - The hat you wear (PKC)
  5. Repurposing – making something out of nothing (McCracken)


Curator; Mary Freer

Mary Freer is a Social Innovator and a visual artist. Having exhibited numerous times during SALA, this year Mary has turned her attention to the power of storytelling and art to improve the lives of older people. In 2014 Mary founded Australia’s first Change Day, the largest social mobilisation of people towards health improvement in Australia. Mary is a TEDx speaker and a Westpac Bicentennial Social Change Fellow. This prestigious fellowship enabled Mary to travel throughout Europe and the USA to meet with social innovators and change agents. You can read about Mary at her website http://freerthinking.com.au