Sally’s work is quirky, wholly original and often full of fun, though sometimes with a serious message. Thematically, she often works conceptually from ideas. There is sometimes an African influence, often some transmogrification, and more often than not some irreverent reference to the world around us. Dreams, musings on human frailty, and notions of what it is to be human reflect her early training and work as a psychologist. Though classically trained in the life-figure, she prefers to work in a more modern idiom, using all sorts of materials besides clay and plaster, including bronze, wood, paper-clay tiles, mosaics, resins and cement, and whatever seems to suit what she is trying to say.
“Between Heaven and Earth” is a metaphorical journey depicted by a cloud, suspended from a swivel so that it softly floats on the breeze. ‘The earth below’ is shown in browns and greens, and the sea and wind are suggested by the blue swirls. ‘The heavens above’ are indicated by the pale coloured tiles, together with a stylised sun which sends fingers of warmth licking over the whole. The figure atop the crest of a wave gives the piece a sense of scale. “Vroom Vroom” reflects man’s testosterone-fuelled love of the motor-bike, the exotic skirt having been prompted by the wonderful scenes in the film, "The Fastest Indian” shown in 2006. The tiny tiles were handmade out of paper-clay, and individually applied to the form, a very time-consuming process. The sculpture “Adrift” also contains mosaic tiles, to represent slicks of water suggesting the sea surrounding the wooden vessel.
Bronzes for Peace
These sculptures all take their starting point from images by Picasso. “Sitting Pretty” refers to the fact that we can in this country sit safely and comfortably, even luxuriously, without the worries experienced by many others in the world. The 3 Faces of Peace are bronze masks, with a simple line-drawing for the facial features of a girl, who has a ‘dove of peace’ hovering above, so that its wings morph into the hair of the girl. The first of these, “Peace Envoy” is the closest to the original stimulus, and has a simple Peter Pan collar as its stand, indicating peace in a domestic setting; the second “Peace Herald”, with its helmet head-dress with the dove breaking through, indicates that wars are fought in order to have peace reign afterwards; and the last in this series, “Face of Peace” is less stylised, more realistic, and shows the reality of the possibility of peace if we would all simply reach for it.
“Laager” means camp, encampment, defensive position, and hence laager mentality. This sculpture, shown and eliciting much comment at The Sculptors Society’s Darling Park Exhibition in August-September 2006, was made in response to the fear, encouraged by some politicians, that many feel when under threat. But the question posed is this: Does drawing together keep us safe? And what of the quality of the chains that bind us? This sculpture indeed poses some interesting conundrums.
A keen sense of social justice is apparent in Sally’s 2004 award-winning boat sculpture “From Foreign Parts, Seeking Refuge”. It is a comment on the perilous journey undertaken by asylum seekers, who have only a faint hope of safe landing. The coffin-like boat which is packed with family/tribal groupings rests on a fragile raft made out of Ti-tree sticks and lashed together with paper-string. It emphasises the desperate plight of refugees seeking asylum in this country, an almost impossible dream.
Sally’s sense of fun comes to the fore with her seals which were prompted by visions of hugely overweight people basking in the sun on deckchairs on a cruise boat. The resulting seals with sunglasses are a comment on the twin follies of over-indulgence and of sun-worship, and moreover they pose a serious question about the danger of the depletion of the ozone layer.
Sally’s forms are often a metaphor for the human condition; her bronze birds with human feet originate from dreams of angst in the world of business. With names as “Interrogator”, “Predator”, “Sentinel” and “Gossip”, their boots/shoes hint at their roles. The series finds conflict resolution with the barefooted “High Flier” about to soar free.
The “Le Chaim” (“To Life”) series is an exuberant symbolic use of warped and dead tree slices to bring joy, and comment on life’s continuity. These pieces were first used in an outdoor ephemeral exhibition at Bi-Centennial Park in 2002, and they have since been re-cycled and shown at Bondi Pavilion in 2003. They were then hung yet again in private gardens, where their continued disintegration is slow and gradual, their increased patina and age continuing to bring pleasure to those that see the work.
Reflecting Sally’s South African background, “The Boss” is a baboon with attitude! We all have a yen to ‘know where we come from’ and “Roots” is an archetypal ancestral baboon with tree-like anchored hind-quarters, growth represented by a tail shooting unrestrainedly skywards, and ballet shoes on the front feet, making it female. It demonstrates the artist's belief that women are the guardians of our succession. “The Matriarch” and “Keeper of the Sun, Moon and Stars” are part of the baboon series, where the primordial role of womanhood is explored. There is a strong belief here in the primacy of a matriarchal society where women are the keepers and nurturers of the species, the essential element for the continuation of the generations. “Ancestral Line” shows the progression of our species from being apes in the trees to our not so un-ape-like behaviour as we labour away in our high-rise buildings!
Sally has only ever carved one piece of stone, “Birdform” and won an award with the result! She hurt her shoulder in the process, and the long period of recovery has discouraged her from pursuing this area of sculpture for the time being.
Sally’s “Love’s Sighs” was made for the French Rendezvous with Sculpture Exhibition, held in the shops along Sydney’s Oxford St. in July 2006. Female nudes recline on either side of a gully, identical in every respect except that one is draped in a French flag and the other in an Australian flag. The gully ‘runs’ with the images of foreign flags, and represents some nations who are in conflict. The piece says something about the difficulty of having relationships across the international divide; hence, "Love’s Sighs". The vertical flags show the universal symbols of love: kisses (lips and hearts), roses, a starry night, and champagne.
The “Shooting from the Hip” series is work that took its focus from a feminist viewpoint that for women to be powerful, they often have to be seen to be using men’s power tools. So these works have deliberately been given feminine-gender lower genitals, but without the usual symbols of fertility. Rather, the gun, a provocative male phallic symbol emerges from their soft female hips.
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