Alliance Française d’Adelaïde

17 February, 2021

The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:40): Bonsoir tout le monde. It is a great honour today to rise and speak about a significant milestone in South Australia's migration history, the 110th anniversary of the Alliance Française d’Adelaïde.

On Saturday 12 February 2021, as Assistant Minister to the Premier, it was a great privilege to represent the Premier, the Hon. Steven Marshall, at the unveiling of the magnificent mural painting that was commissioned to commemorate this remarkable milestone. I was joined by SAMEAC Chair, Mr Norman Schueler OAM.

The Alliance Française of Adelaide was established in 1910 when two sisters, Ms Berthe Mouchette and Ms Marie Lion, migrated to Australia and fell in love with Adelaide. Both French artists, one a painter and one a writer, they soon became prominent members of their new community and formed the Adelaide branch to cultivate a strong relationship between South Australia and France.

For honourable members who are not familiar with the Alliance, it is an international network of branches, which was first founded in Paris in 1883 to spread the love of French language and culture around the world. Today, there are 819 Alliances in 137 countries, reaching over 555,000 people around the globe.

The South Australian branch has become a vibrant cultural centre which hosts a number of major events each year, such as the French Film Festival, concerts, book launches and of course the most popular and beloved French Market in Unley. The alliance also plays a vital role in French language education. It is accredited by the Ethnic Schools Board and the SACE Board of South Australia, and it is the official centre for examinations administered by the French Ministry for Education.

On behalf of the Marshall Liberal government, I wish to express our heartfelt congratulations to the president, Mr Bryan Fahy; board members; director, Ms Raphaelle Delaunay; staff; sponsors; the Honorary Consul of France, Sue Crafter; and many, many volunteers for continuing the legacy of the founding members of the Alliance Française.

I thank them sincerely for their dedication to promoting French language and culture to the wider South Australian community and for their ongoing contributions to strengthening the bilateral relations between South Australia and France. The Office of the French Strategy exists within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and I acknowledge their great work as well.

To celebrate the 110th anniversary, the Alliance commissioned an outdoor mural to bring a touch of French culture to the streets of Adelaide and to recognise the many achievements of the alliance. I would like to pay tribute to the incredibly talented South Australian Aboriginal artist Elizabeth Yanyi Close, who designed the stunning mural to celebrate the collaboration and enduring relationship between Australia and France. This relationship was further emphasised through the artist herself, as Elizabeth has created a public mural in the French city of Cherbourg.

This magnificent mural is a wonderful gift to South Australia and is deeply symbolic, reflecting the Alliance's deep respect for Aboriginal culture and acknowledgement of the many contributions of our diverse multicultural communities in South Australia. The artwork draws on colours from the French, Australian and Aboriginal flags. The texture reflects the elements of earth and water, representing the vast distance over oceans and landscapes between our two nations.

There are many layers to this fabulous piece. There are abstract references to the staff of the Alliance Française and the diversity of our vibrant multicultural communities. We see the Eiffel Tower and the South Australian coastline, with the Milky Way and the sun shining on both nations as a unifying force. I would like to briefly share the artist's own words about the heart of this piece. She said:

“Whilst we all come from very different cultures and ways of life, we are all very much the same under the sun and the Milky Way.”

Merci beaucoup.