Artist paints bright fu­ture from re­flec­tions on life


The fact an every­day ob­ject, such as a flower, can hold sig­nif­i­cant emo­tional im­por­tance and trig­ger mem­o­ries forms the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind most of Sally An­der­son’s work, in­clud­ing her win­ning en­try in this year’s Brett White­ley Trav­el­ling Art Schol­ar­ship.

“Ev­ery­one has sto­ries at­tached to things,” the 27-year-old Syd­ney artist said. “I’m fas­ci­nated by the brain and cog­ni­tion and how we hold emo­tional weight within cer­tain ob­jects. It’s so in­ter­est­ing to me how ob­jects or land­scapes can hold mem­o­ries and how those mem­o­ries can change over time; it’s not fixed.”

The schol­ar­ship, in its 19th year, is open to emerg­ing pain­ters aged be­tween 20 and 30, with the win­ner re­ceiv­ing $40,000 and a three-month res­i­dency at the Cite In­ter­na­tionale des Arts in Paris. The schol­ar­ship, which is $10,000 richer this year, is de­signed to em­u­late the schol­ar­ship White­ley re­ceived at 20.

“It’ll be an amazing op­por- tu­nity for me to de­velop my work in such a rich cul­tural and arts en­vi­ron­ment,” said An­der­son, who was cho­sen from 10 fi­nal­ists.

“I have only ever spent a few days in Paris and it was nowhere near long enough, so to now have the fi­nan­cial sup­port to just be there and fo­cus on my work en­tirely — it’ll be great.”

An­der­son said one of her win­ning paint­ings, Dilling’s Bromeliad with Gull­foss Falls, 2016, was the cul­mi­na­tion of two vivid mem­o­ries — her time work­ing at a bromeliad nurs­ery and a brief stint in Ice­land.

“Dur­ing that pe­riod a lot of change hap­pened in my life and when I started thinking about how much I’d gone through, the bromeliad be­came an ob­ject to rep­re­sent that change. So I took it away like an arte­fact or a sou­venir,” An­der­son said. “I then put the bromeliad in an ab­stracted en­vi­ron­ment and in the win­dow I painted the Gull­foss Falls from my time in Ice­land. I paired those two ex­pe­ri­ences to­gether to make this one work.”

Art Gallery of NSW di­rec­tor Michael Brand said the schol­ar­ship amount had been in­creased this year to en­sure the re­cip­i­ent was able to soak up as much cul­ture and art in Europe as pos­si­ble.

“The cru­cial as­pect with this prize is that, if the idea is to ex­pe­ri­ence art in Europe, are we really giv­ing them enough money to do so?” Brand said.

An­der­son’s part­ner Guy Maestri, who won the 2009 Archibald Prize with his por­trait of late Aus­tralian singer and mu­si­cian Dr G Yunupingu, will ac­com­pany her to Paris.


Sally An­der­son at the Brett White­ley Stu­dio in Syd­ney

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