To tell a constant story

"The Constant Story", 2010, Oil on linen, 60cm x 80cm

My exhibition is due to open at Gallery A, The Women’s and Children’s Hospital, North Adelaide on 2nd February.

There will be a number of paintings as well as an installation of some of the drawings from “Message in a bottle”  (see column at right)

This series is part of my own struggle to become part of the constant story of painting. For this body of work, I have taken my practice back to a personal exploration of materials. The palette is limited to three earth colours and white. Many of the supports I have prepared from scratch, starting with raw linen and rabbit skin glue. There is a simple compositional concept, generally a single figure flanked by pared back architectural elements around the golden mean.  The result is a series of quiet and harmonious works.

Aside from the formal and material story, the paintings are linked by a narrative theme. The subjects of the paintings are contemporary children, loosely linked to a fairy-tale by the addition of a symbolic object.

Fairy tales, myths and legends, like painting, are evidence of the constant story of humanity. Timelessness in what seems like a rapidly changing and unstable world. They are simple tales often told to children, yet also edgy and dark, with sometimes complex and perplexing meanings, where resolution occurs through magical intervention.

In my paintings, children on the edge of puberty ponder their future from their mythical childhood. The mood of the paintings is quiet and calm, a point of stillness where, as if by magic, time is detached from its linear progression.

I hope to present an exhibition of paintings that enhance and sit well in the physical and psychological environment of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Their narrative theme is one with which children can identify.

They are quiet and contemplative, fostering a sense of calm. They are serious in intent, with metaphorical content that goes beyond their simple narrative. My intention is to  present serious aesthetic activity in the hospital environment which may honour and affirm the clients, staff and visitors for whom the work is intended.

"Waiting for a Prince", 2010, oil on linen, 60cm x 80cm


  1. Rachael Polson says:

    Beautiful Sally. They look wonderful and interesting and engaging. I am very impressed with the use of a limited palette and I really feel that you have worked so hard this year. You should be very pleased with yourself. Your writing about it is really good – easy to see why you got the ‘gig’. I am sure it will go really well. I wish I was there to see them in the flesh. Let me know if the princess with the pea is still available at the end of the show. Well done. Rachael


  2. cathy frawley says:

    These look great Sally – which ones are you including in the show? Have you looked at Paula Rego’s work lately – there could be something in it for you for later.

    I love your drawings also – they do tell a constant story – of domestic life in a partcular family – through them there is a familiarity which is comforting. I love the range of colours which evoke a number of different moods/responses. How will you select which ones to include and how to present them? Is it a big space -if they can’t be all shown what about having the photostream as part of the exhibition? Also have you thought about developing some into paintings at a later date? You have been very industrious, well done!!


  3. Hi Cathy and Rachael – thanks for your feedback.
    Cathy, there are so far 8 paintings ready for the show – maybe one or two more if I work hard! Most you have already seen on the blog – all of the fairy story ones. Paula Rego is one of my faves – I will certainly revisit her! We are planning to select drawings on the day of installation – concentrating on those where the subject matter is child based. The aim is to make an installation relevant to the WCH site. Sadly I don’t think a photostream exhibition is possible at the site – I have been trying to do that at various venues with no success so far! They will be exhibited in a grid, no frames, just pinned (hooray!)
    The space is a long corridor, quite a bit of space, but the paintings need room.


  4. Oh by the way, next move will be to develop the drawings into paintings! Back to my original project – but moving considerably I hope because I am now armed with a whole lot more knowledge/experience!


  5. Kate Swaffer says:

    You continue to amaze and inspire me Sally. I will definitely make it to this exhibition as a way of honouring those whom this work is intended for. Well done.


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