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