Sally Ross is striving to carve out a ‘sustainable professional career as an artmonster’ but at the same time, make sure she follows the ‘numerous desires of both her heart and head’.
What does this look like? Well, in May, when the Archibald finalists were announced, Sally was collaborating with her portrait subjects Will and Garrett Huxley, The Huxleys – ‘being dressed in glitter bodysuit and discordant wig at the Art Gallery of New South Wales was quite an honour,’ she tells. But we should be clear, it’s not always like this. Sometimes (in 2017, specifically) it’s working with artist Paulina Olowska in her studio in Poland. At other times, Sally’s days are taken up by more run-of-the-mill liaising with clients, architects and interior designers on site-specific commissions.
How then does art born out of this diversity of adventures appear? For Sally’s most recent exhibition, which opens at Murray White Room tomorrow, it’s vast yet intricately layered vistas in vibrant emerald, teal, and hints of cerulean. These nine new oil-on-board paintings are based on found materials, as is often her process. ‘They emerged from a stinky pile of antiquarian books on 15th/16th-century Flemish art,’ tells the 49-year-old painter, who is astounded by the skill, restraint, and complexity of the early ‘Netherlandish’ artists.
Sally has set out to connect viewers to a deeper sense of time than the relentless instantaneity of contemporary culture through these works. ‘This constant swiping away and stream of next! next! next! that makes people enjoy the potential of a painting, of an object, and materials of real-time and space even more,’ as she puts it.
Her forthcoming showcase is a joint venture, but a pretty atypical one at that. Exhibition-goers will enter through a four-metre high wild smoke bush installation by florist Hattie Molloy, before witnessing Otto Dix inspired skull paintings made with artist Matthew Harris. There’s also 80s Italian seating – by Paolo Deganello for Cassina (1982) – provided by Geoffrey Hatty, which was once showcased on gameshow Sale of the Century! The gallery floor will be covered with antique Persian, Anatolian, Caucasian and European carpets selected by Bob Cadry of Cadrys.
‘The show is about collaboration and the way things co-exist without intending to be didactic, matchy-matchy or follow logical associations,’ invites Sally. ‘As the Huxleys say: “Everything happens for no reason”.’
November 16th to December 20th
Murray White Room
Sargood Lane, Melbourne