Sally Anderson

In Issue 44, 2018, Sally Anderson spoke about how the deeply autobiographical, the metaphorical and the observed intertwine in her painting practice.

These paintings are made intaglio, with histories and figures sunk below their surface. They are like wombs or libraries—where gestation and absorption are tacitly implied.’ This is from Stella Rosa McDonald’s catalogue essay for my exhibition ‘Beside the Point, Beside Myself, Beside You’ at Olsen Gallery last year (2017), and it offers a nice insight into my work and process.

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.

My work mostly takes the form of abstraction and my process is similar to that of problem solving. Composition and form are loosely based on interiors and landscapes. I almost always start a work with a horizon line and go from there. This reminds me of something Lloyd Rees once said, ‘I can’t paint without my hat on. It gives me a sense of horizon.’

Colour is a major part of my process and I work reasonably unthinkingly with it. Sometimes colour is deliberate and sometimes it is realised through process and play. My work Landscape as Room, Room as Womb (2017) plays with colour and uses architectural-like forms suggestive of indoor/outdoor spaces. Presented as a diptych, this work portrays two alternative ways to consider the role of a room. It also references a passage from David Mitchell’s novel Black Swan Green (2006): ‘Cars’re rooms. So are woods. Skies’re ceilings. Distances’re walls. Wombs’re rooms made of mothers. Graves’re rooms made of soil.’

More recently I have been including further representational elements within my work. These usually appear quite blatantly and sit very deliberately within abstracted backgrounds. This is evident in my paintings Unmarried Bromeliad (2017) and Cut Out Studio Philodendron Leaves with Lennox Point Lookout (2017). The latter painting uses philodendron leaves and landscape to fuse two very different, but pivotal, times in my life. By pairing philodendron leaves with a window of Lennox Point lookout, I force a new context to these experiences and embed a sense of narrative into the work.

The ‘windows’ of landscapes within my work are an element I have been enjoying exploring. I am fascinated with the way landscape can hold and trigger memory and experience. Landscape is usually borrowed (or copied) and painted in my own hand. They are always relevant to me. They’re places I’ve lived with (landscapes hanging on the wall in my home), lived at, lived near, visited. They each hold a certain intimate significance.

My painting Your Landscape of Govetts Leap on My Landscape of You (2017) holds within in it a copy of a painting by my partner and fellow artist, Guy Maestri. It references our shared home, our individual experiences of Govetts Leap and gives a new context, and thus new meaning, to Guy’s painting. It explores ways meaning and memory have the ability to change through retelling and remembering.

My process has a somewhat performative element to it. I work quickly and intuitively putting paint down. Within one work there is usually multiple works or what I like to call ‘possible paintings’. Each layer informs the next. Painted in and painted out. I don’t see this as a process of erasure, even though perhaps it is, but one of accumulating, storing, growing or gathering.

The work A Bunch of Deegan Drive Hydrangeas on the Darling (2018) holds within it many paintings and uses hydrangeas to reference my time spent living at Deegan Drive as a child. It pairs this with the Murray Darling River. The layering is both physical and metaphorical. They hold within them reference to time, relationships, emotional states, friends, lovers, landscapes, homes and rooms.

This article was originally published in Artist Profile, Issue 44, 2019   

Sally Anderson: Blue You See Sky
29 August – 21 September 2019
Edwina Corlette Gallery, Brisbane


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