Young artist en pointe with Brett Whiteley win
Marrickville-based artist Sally Anderson won the 2017 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship in October. The award gives Anderson, 27, the chance to paint and research in Paris, which she says should influence her work for years to come.
How did it feel to win the scholarship just one day after opening your first commercial solo exhibition in Sydney?
It felt quite unreal actually. I was pretty shocked and very excited. The timing of it was pretty unbelievable.
How will the scholarship foster your artistic development?
The scholarship gives me a three-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and $40,000 in living and travel expenses. It will afford me time and support to develop my work and arts practice in the rich arts and cultural environment of Europe. I’ll also delve into visual research at museums and galleries and see works I’ve only previously experienced in books and online. This invaluable opportunity will broaden my perspective on the world and no doubt inform my artistic practice for years to come.
Pieces from your solo exhibition Beside the Point, Beside Myself, Beside You have evocative names. How did the words and images arrive and interrelate?
It’s different for every piece. But the titles of my exhibitions always come before the works. “The Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow Between our House and Theirs” is a work which pairs two abstracted landscapes, like the boundary line between two houses. It reminds me of a childhood home of mine, and how the boundary was never really defined with our neighbours. There was a Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow plant, which sat between our houses; perhaps this was the boundary? My work looks at context, dichotomies, ways meaning is formed/informed and cognitive processes such as decision-making. My work also aligns with my environment and world, it looks at interpersonal relationships and questions memory and experience. I think this is why my work continues to arrive in pairs and diptychs.
Why pair still life with landscape, as you do, in such intriguing ways?
The pairing of works, landscapes and objects is a device I use to play with context, association and meaning. It also allows me to embed a sense of narrative and reference personal experience in the work. For example, the pairing of landscape and still life in “That Little Still Life from Their Place on a Landscape of Near There” is playful yet quite literal. Literal to those who know the little still life pictured and playful to those who don’t. With this work I’m referencing a place in my life where I spent some time, but no longer spend time. It is a place I think of, and am reminded of, all the time and therefore it inevitably arrived in my work.
What were you exploring about embodiment and boundaries in Beside the Point?
In this series my work explores the self and uses landscape as a device to do so. I question everyday and intimate experience and memories held in place. I use abstraction, colour and borrowed landscapes to do so. Read the catalogue essay for Beside the Point, Beside Myself, Beside You, written by Stella Rosa McDonald, to find out more.
Has Brett Whiteley’s painting influenced your painting?
I don’t think Brett Whiteley’s work has directly influenced mine, though I am an artist making paintings in Australia, as was he. Perhaps his work has indirectly influenced mine? I am always amazed by his use of composition, colour and his ability to pair abstraction with figurative elements.
A “souvenir” bromeliad features in a painting from your winning series. Will you “souvenir” something Parisian to use in a painting?
Yes, the bromeliad work from the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship Exhibition, “Gullfoss Falls with Dillings Bromeliad”, pairs two of my recent experiences—visiting a waterfall in Iceland and working at a bromeliad farm. It looks at the capacity for objects and landscape to hold and trigger memory and experience. It looks at the materiality of a photograph, the photograph as object and object as souvenir. Souvenirs serve as traces of experience, they authenticate an experience, remind you that it was real perhaps. I have a show, Self Storage and the Really Real, opening in early February 2018 at Edwina Corlette Gallery in Brisbane, which looks at souvenirs and ways we authenticate experience. Who knows what I’ll “souvenir” from my time in Paris and Europe. Maybe a colour, landscape or object!