There are many ways to be a mother and an artist, but few of them are easy. There are never enough hours in the day and often it feels as though you’re working on borrowed time, navigating between the studio and caring responsibilities. Similar to many artists I know, Sally Anderson counters this by taking a compartmentalised approach to her practice and her mothering. Anderson speaks of being able to visualise her studio when she is home, knowing exactly the next step she will take on a painting that lies dormant waiting for her return.
Encountering the paintings of Anderson recalls the feeling of looking out of the window of a moving train, somewhere along the coast. Distant landscapes, vibrant blue sea, brown rooftops and scenes from other people’s lives flash past. A layering of images contributes to this sense of movement. Upon each canvas is a painting within a painting, functioning like a window or a portal that opens onto another world. These paintings also sustain a sense of distance, watching from afar a life that is not your own. If I look long enough, I feel as though I might catch a glimpse of my own reflection looking back at me.
Sometimes these paintings-within-paintings appear like a postcard, bordered in white and tacked onto a window, a contained landscape collaged directly on top of an existing vista. Other works contain reproductions of exhibiting paintings, such as a landscape by Bob Thompson and a figurative sketch by Paula Modersohn-Becker. Anderson gleans her imagery from social media and reproductions glimpsed in books, which is to say she paints from life.
Often positioned in the foreground, a vase of cut flowers offers a moment of stillness amidst fragments of cliffs, water, rocks, trees, and roofs. Banksias, tarragons, kangaroo paw and red hot pokers, are the flowers native to suburban Australia that I imagine Anderson encountering on her walk to her studio, picking and then arranging in an act of care. Carefully selected shells, too, dominate the painted canvases, the same kind that my children place against their ears to be instantly transported by the sound of the sea. Another kind of portal. This is the stuff of everyday magic, or windows into what Anderson calls ‘secondhand motherhood’ – the versions of motherhood that we witness through others’ experiences.
Well versed in the expressions of other worlds and the portals with which to reach them is science fiction writer Ursula Le Guin. A mother of three who shared the responsibilities of childcare with her academic partner, Le Guin’s short text The Carrier Bag of Fiction likens the form of the novel to “a sack, a bag…a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.” Sally’s paintings are carrier bags in this same vein. They contain the outcomes of a careful process of selection and composition, of sacred keepsakes and landscapes. A vase, a vessel, a frame, a womb, a house, a painting, are each a kind of container. At times they may be watertight, but more often these containers overflow, and experiences leak out.
In her meditation on the colour blue, writer and theorist Maggie Nelson compares life to a train of moods or a string of beads, each one a different hue. To be caught in one colour or mood is to miss all the variations that make up a life. Anderson is concerned with accounting for all these complexities, and it is through the windows and portals in her work that she attends to multiple truths at once. Mothering in particular is an expression of contradictory experiences and feelings; I love my child and I need time and space, both things can be true.
Like poetry, Sally’s paintings are comprised of lyrical arrangements, contrasts of form and subjects that unfold across the canvases. In her paintings, borders are porous. A lined brown shape becomes a trunk, a quilt, a rock. A square of blue is an ocean view, a flooded town, and a waterfall. In the manner of Rubin's Vase, what you are looking at shifts before your eyes, depending on your perspective.
Like poetry, also, are her titles, which I read to myself several times in order to unravel them. ‘Sea’, ‘me’, ‘hold’, these words echo across the titles of multiple paintings like an incarnation. In each title, the adjectives are stripped away until just the nouns and verbs are left, and I am reminded of the children’s books I read nightly to my boys, the simple phrases from everyday life that I have half-memorised.
Mothering young children requires physical presence, yet while reading, bathing, preparing food, settling for sleep, pushing strollers or swings, the mind is free to wander through landscapes and ideas. Collecting images and inspiration that can be transferred back into the work as soon as time allows. Anderson’s paintings offer this possibility of being in multiple places at once, they capture slithers of time in which all the complexities of motherhood and life are contained.
A love of process and insatiable curiosity for life’s contradictions are the hallmarks of Sally Anderson’s painterly style. Abstracted and instinctual, her compositions are intangible landscapes of vaguely constructivist forms, reactionary mark-making and opaque references to past experiences. Comprised of layers, both physical and metaphorical, they catalogue a practice of meditation and technical application that gives the works a gritty depth at odds with their optimistic colour palettes and quirky titles.
Laden with autobiographical content, Anderson’s paintings both obscure and make blatant her emotional response to interpersonal relationships, private contemplations and observations on memory, association and context. Often paired to directly complement or contradict their twin, each work explores the way meaning is formed and how the use of language influences perspective. As the artist herself says, “we understand what ‘hot’ means because we know what ‘cold’ is”.
Crowning the works are Anderson’s unconventional titles, often seeming as meandering streams of consciousness. Lyrical and occasionally fractured, they are a poetic reminder of the friends, lovers and experiences that shape her idiosyncratic art practice.
Born in Lismore, Sally Anderson began her undergraduate studies in Visual Art at Southern Cross University before transferring to the College of Fine Art in Sydney. A past finalist in the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Portia Geach Memorial Award, the Sunshine Coast Art Prize and the Paddington Art Prize, Anderson was invited to participate in the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists residency in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2014. In 2017 Sally Anderson won the prestigious Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship administered by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and completed the three month residency at the Cite des Artes in Paris.
Sally Anderson’s Guido Holding Folding Moulding is another stand-out. Ostensibly a portrait of her artist husband holding their child, there’s a metaphysical dimension to the work, with a sculpture on a pedestal, a jug with flowers and a red, flag-like curtain taking up significant space in the composition. The play of curves and fractured planes adds to the mystery of the picture, as we feel we are looking through multiple doorways or windows, projecting a dream-like atmosphere.
Congratulations to Sally Anderson who is a finalist in the Portia Geach Award at SH Ervin Gallery in Sydney.
First awarded in 1965, the Portia Geach Memorial Award was established by Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, artist Portia Geach. As per the direction of the will, the Award is annually presented to an Australian female artist for the best portrait painted from life of a man or woman distinguished in art, letters or the sciences. Geach was widely acclaimed as a leading artist and was a frequent commentator in the national media – making her an iconic figure in the Australian arts community. The $30,000 non-acquisitive Portia Geach Memorial Award is given by Perpetual as trustee, to the entry with the highest artistic merit.
Guido holding, folding, moulding 2022, acrylic on polycotton, 198 x 153 cm
Blue Island investigates the interplay of colour and memory in relation to individual experience. Paintings draw on hydrangea related respective experience to demonstrate the capacity for colour and object to hold and trigger memory and association. The exhibition seeks to question the reliability of memory and offers a way to authenticate experience through colour. In attempting to realise something perhaps visually impossible to verify within their paintings; mixing colour truthfully and straightforwardly from memory, the artists are challenged to settle on feeling and intuitive correctness rather than absolute truth and certainty.
Using a uniform size canvas, the 14 invited artists were instructed to translate, from their ‘mind’s eye’, the colour they most strongly associate with their experience of hydrangeas. The result is a collection of essentially monochrome surfaces steeped with hidden and concealed recollections of mothers and mother’s mothers, former neighbours and neighbourhoods, marriage, childbirth city front-yards, suburban backyards, households and broken family homes. More visually evident (than the personal histories imbued in the paintings) is the materiality and individually distinctive application of paint to surface. These largely monochrome works give a condensed, and detail like insight into each artist’s painterly signature, almost all of which are instantly recognisable.
50 works by 50 artists — all for sale. Presenting The Australian’s inaugural summer exhibition, a showcase of the most exciting young Australian artists working today. By AMY CAMPBELL
It’s this moment of evolution that has inspired The Australian’s Summer Exhibition — a showcase of sculptures, paintings, photographs and works on paper. Beautiful to look at, it’s a celebration of some of the best and brightest artists working today. All 50 pieces have been selected because they signify what’s happening in Australian art and culture right now.
So, what is happening right now? The primary art market in Australia is experiencing a small boom. For obvious reasons, flying to international art fairs is off the cards, and this has led Australian collectors to rediscover a local market packed full of prodigious works by tomorrow’s household names.
It means there’s a renewed focus on Australian stories and more opportunities for emerging artists to have their work seen, as gallerists and buyers look toward home. It’s this time of risk-taking and yes, even optimism that our summer exhibition represents.
To coincide with her exhibition at Tweed Regional Gallery, Edwina Corlette Gallery is delighted to present a series of new paintings by Sally Anderson. Sally is a past winner of the prestigious Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship and a finalist in this year’s Portia Geach Award for female portraiture, with her painting of Claudia Karvan (below).
Born in Lismore, Anderson began her undergraduate studies in Visual Art at Southern Cross University before transferring to the College of Fine Art in Sydney. A past finalist in the Sunshine Coast Art Prize and the Paddington Art Prize, Anderson was invited to participate in the Association of Icelandic Visual Artists Residency in Reykjavik in 2014. Her work has been acquired by Artbank, the Australian Catholic University and corporate and private clients in Australia and Europe.
The concept of home has changed in 2020. For a lot of people, home has never been just one static place, and yet in the last few months that stasis has been forced upon us. In the midst of shelter-in-place orders, we’ve been directed to decide on a single location that represents our place in the world and stay there, hoping it keeps us safe.
Reframing the domestic space as a new landscape intrigues artist and new mother Sally Anderson. Her new body of work is entitled Bridal Veil Falls, the Window and the Piano Lesson, and was created almost entirely in lockdown. The pieces will be on display at Edwina Corlette gallery in Brisbane from tomorrow, in an exhibition that explores the fusion between Sally’s subjective experience of parenthood, and the collective endurance of pandemic paralysis.
“To help my son sleep we put on white noise of a small river in Scotland and Llyn Gwynant waves in Wales. The toponomy of Lismore indicates it was named after Isle of Lismore which lies in Loch Linnhe, an arm of the sea, on the West Coast of Scotland. I was born in Lismore early 1990, an experience I hadn’t intimately considered until the birth of my son a couple of years ago. My son was conceived in the Nancy Fairfax Artist in Residence Studio at Tweed Regional Gallery. There’s a pair of hoop pines (aka Richmond River Pines) that dominate the side view from the residency verandah. I often use these trees, along with banksias, within my work to represent the Northern Rivers region, my transition to motherhood and European exploration/invasion of Australia.
The works in 'Arm of the Sea and the Fertile Tree' use landscape metaphor rather than subject. Intimate personal experience and collective experience are translated into paintings, bedspreads, windows, still lifes and stages.”
Sally Anderson's work 'Claude Swimming' has been selected as a finalist in the Portia Geach Prize for 2020. The painting of Claudia Karvan, actress, producer and writer will be exhibited at the National Trust's S.H. Ervin Gallery from 14 August – 20 September 2020.
The Portia Geach Memorial Award is Australia’s most prestigious art prize for portraiture by women artists. The Award was established by the will of the late Florence Kate Geach in memory of her sister, Portia Geach. The non-acquisitive award of $30,000 is awarded by the Trustee for the entry which is of the highest artistic merit, ‘…for the best portrait painted from life of some man or woman distinguished in Art, Letters, or the Sciences by after any female resident who was born in Australia or was British born or has become a naturalised Australian and whose place of domicile is Australia’
In Issue 44, 2018, Sally Anderson spoke to Artist Profile Magazine about how the deeply autobiographical, the metaphorical and the observed intertwine in her painting practice.
'My paintings talk of relationship, context and metaphor. They are loaded with autobiographical content, draw on past and present experiences and often arrive in pairs. Recent paintings use abstraction, still life and borrowed landscapes to reference everyday intimate experience held in object and place. They explore the self and use abstraction, landscape and still life as devices to do so.' Sally Anderson
Sally Anderson's work 'Side of the Road River with Rousseau's Bluebells' has been selected as a finalist in the Mosman Art Prize
Established in 1947, the Mosman Art Prize is Australia's oldest and most prestigious local government art award. As an acquisitive art award for painting, the winning artworks collected form a splendid collection of modern and contemporary Australian art, reflecting developments in Australian art practice since 1947. Artists who have won the Mosman Art Prize include Margaret Olley, Guy Warren, Grace Cossington Smith, Weaver Hawkins, Nancy Borlase, Lloyd Rees, Elisabeth Cummings, Adam Cullen, Michael Zavros and Natasha Walsh.
An exhibition of artworks by 20 young Australian artists celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship, will be on view at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney from 22 March to 5 May 2019.
The Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship was established by Ms Beryl Whiteley (1917-2010) who generously allocated funds for the scholarship in memory of her son, Brett Whiteley, to provide young painters the opportunity to travel to Paris and explore Europe in order to develop their artistic practice. Since its inception in 1999, 20 young painters have followed in the footsteps if Brett Whiteley who won the Italian Government Travelling Scholarship in 1959.
The exhibition features works by Sally Anderson, Alice Byrne, Mitch Cairns, James Drinkwater, Petrea Fellow, Becky Gibson, Nathan Hawkes, Alan Jones, Nicole Kelly, Belem Lett, Lucy O’Doherty, Wayde Owen, Timothy Phillips, Tom Polo, Ben Quilty, Karlee Rawkins, Samuel Wade, Amber Wallis, Natasha Walsh, and Marcus Wills, alongside the four paintings by Brett Whiteley that secured him the Italian Government Travelling Scholarship, displayed together for the first time since 1959.
The exhibition presents the works by each artist that were entered and/ or won the scholarship, works resulting from their residency at the Cite Internationale des Art, Paris and recent work. The cohort of scholarship awardees features three artists who have gone on to win the Archibald Prize and many have now established themselves on the art scene and exhibit regularly.
Sally Anderson's work ‘Guy’s Painting of Wollumbin on my Wollumbin’ 2018, acrylic on linen, 140 x 122cm has been acquired by Tweed Regional Gallery. In 2017 Sally was an artist in residence at the Nancy Fairfax Artist Residency through the Tweed Regional Gallery and throughout her life, has had strong connections to the region.
Congratulations to Sally Anderson who is a finalist in the Paddington Art Prize 2018.
The Paddington Art Prize is a $30,000 National acquisitive prize, awarded annually for a painting inspired by the Australian landscape. The prize encourages the interpretation of the landscape as a significant contemporary genre, its long tradition in Australian painting as a key contributor to our national ethos, and is a positive initiative in private patronage of the arts in Australia.
Of her entry 'Sharing Thirroul (Paul Ryan’s Post Of Thirroul With Curtain) And Guy’s Wollumbin', Sally says
This work uses ‘borrowed landscapes’ to look at ways we experience the Australian landscape from the comfort of our homes. It uses landscape as a device to demonstrate a shift in the way we experience landscape.
Sally Anderson's recent exhibition 'Self Storage and the Really Real' is featured in the January edition of the Art Almanac.
'“Self Storage and the Really Real’ looks at ways we authenticate experience and store memory in object and place’, says artist Sally Anderson whose abstract compositions brim with clear references to past experiences; from the hydrangeas at her childhood home to shells from the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, and Norfolk Pines from recent Instagram posts to landscapes from past and present relationships. These works are a visual archive giving permanence to intangible memories and making them, as the title implies, ‘really real’.'
Sally Anderson has been awarded the Brett Whiteley Travelling Arts Scholarship for 2017.
The prize is $40,000 and a three month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, administered by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
The annual Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship is open to Australian artists aged between 20 and 30. It was created from an endowment left by Beryl Whiteley, who witnessed the profound effect that international travel had on her son Brett Whiteley, as a result of him winning the Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship at the age of 20.
The exhibition will open 13 October – 19 November 2017 at Brett Whiteley Studio, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.
Sally Anderson has been selected as a finalist in Newcastle Art Gallery's Kilgour Prize.
In 1987 artist Jack Kilgour bequeathed funds for the creation of a figurative and portrait art competition to be run in perpetuity at Newcastle Art Gallery. Today the Kilgour Prize is one of Australia's major art prizes and awards $50,000 for the most outstanding work of art as determined by a panel of three judges, and $5,000 for the People's Choice Award, as determined by votes from the public.
The Kilgour Prize will be on display 5 August - 15 October 2017. For further information, please click here.
Iconic Australian blog The Design Files visited Sally Anderson in her studio recently, to see how things were progressing in the lead up to her first solo exhibition.
'Working predominantly with a muted colour palette, the artist will often add an unexpected contrast, like a brush of bright magenta. ‘For me, working with colour is very intuitive; I might spend weeks working with dusky colours, only to come in one day needing to mix a cyan blue,’ she tells.
The paintings are an ongoing process of adding layers and marks. Sometimes Sally will paint over a work in her studio that she’d thought she was long done with. ‘My partner once said that my pieces are a bit like découpage… with individual snippets and cut-outs layered heavily onto a surface,’ she says. ‘My mum has always loved crafts and used to actually découpage the furniture in our house… maybe that’s unknowingly made an impression on me!’