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WINDRIDER - Deb Sleeman

Since the inception of the Sculpture trail Sarah Strong-Law had regularly asked me when my EOI was coming!! Before her death we had been talking about an idea I had, an idea that strangely seems to embody the person she was and, to me, talks about the strength of successive generations of women who have shaped this community.


Kangaroo Island is an elemental place. Above all, one cannot escape the wind. It creates the shape of the day in all seasons, be it a gentle breeze or a howling gale. I often imagine our weather systems carrying my experiences and  thoughts onto the next place in its path, or bringing wisps and eddies of lives from whence the wind has come.

It is the same wind that those in Tasmania or on the mainland feel that we have already felt. I envisage the southeasterlies in summer bringing with them the smells, experiences and memories of those in Tasmania or the crispness and chill of the ice from Antarctica. The Northerlies bring with them the dust and smells of the desert, reminding us of the ancientness of this land and its culture. The wind is both a timeline and timeless, changing with forces unseen yet constant.


This sculpture embodies a free spirit, a timeless entity who, although grounded in the real world manages to harness energy from elsewhere and use it positively in her daily life.


The timeline of the women of this Island, First Nations, Settler and Contemporary women have come from all cardinal points of the compass. We are all wind-riders and our dreams and imaginations, resilience and hard work have helped to shape something just like the wind - invisible and intangible yet in plain sight at the same time. It is the fabric of a community.


The tiles at the base of the sculpture were created at a series of workshops held at my studio. Over 50 people attended and made works dedicated to the women of the Island past and present who were important to them. There is much to read and ponder and wonder at just how rich this Island community is because of them.


Deb Sleeman’s art practice is sculptural and largely inspired by the natural world and island community within which she lives and works.

The work is informed by formal study as well as life experiences of a landscape traversed slowly, sailing and walking. She explores the animate and inanimate in our world as integral rather than separate, pulling us out of center stage so that there is equal weight for all entities. ‘I search for gaps in which to create a dialogue between these two, a place to explore their intangible connections and commonalities to life, place and otherness. It is a constant challenge to imbue the built form with this invisibility.’

Deb creates small and large scale sculptures for group and solo exhibition and both private and public commissions. She has exhibited widely throughout Australia in galleries and outdoor exhibitions such as The Palmer, Heysen and Lorne Sculpture Biennials and Sculpture x Sea, as well as completing a number of public art commissions along the Adelaide coastline and on Kangaroo Island.

To learn more about Deb's work, visit


This installation was brought to life by the generous donations of Sarah Strong-Law's local, national and international friends, family and community - all of us whose lives and spirits have been shaped by her vitality, kindness and strength.

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