This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Unforgettable New Landscapes From Sally Ross

Studio Visit

The Archibald Prize alerts us to some truly exceptional paintings, the kind of artworks that stay etched in your mind. While Sally Ross didn’t take out the top award this year, she was again a finalist. Of the 794 entries, her portrait The Huxleys is the one I remember best.

It’s a joy to share a studio visit with this delightfully candid artist as we preview her latest body of work, which goes on exhibit at Murray White Room tomorrow.

15th November, 2018

Inside the home studio of Melbourne-based artist Sally Ross. Figurine from the Salvos, bronze Finger sculpture by Storm Gold from Caves Gallery, ceramic hand by Caroline Gibbes from Arthouse Gallery, Love Poems by Karl Marx (written when Marx was a student – to his ‘beautiful and witty’ wife Jenny  –’ I’m a Romantic fool,’ says Sally), SHIT  by Jordan Marani from Daine Singer Gallery, Canadian artists General Idea‘s edition box for A poodle never begs except for meaning, Jan Lucas’ Piss Off jug from Neon Parc, and Gnome by Gordon Bennett atop an alabaster ashtray. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sally lives and work in an old Victorian house in ‘P-Town’ (Prahran). Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sally credits artist/gallerist/teacher Kez Hughes with helping her to work with better materials and techniques. Artwork: Landscape (11 trees) 130x110cm. Photo – courtesy of the Murray White Room.

To Sally, her space is an ideal work/life environment in which she can thrive. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The artist admits she’s becoming addicted to collaboration. ‘It can only work if you trust and respect each other. It doesn’t work if you don’t let your collaborators ‘do their thing’, she says. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Her long studio space is crammed with books and rugs and art and ‘big woofy speakers so I can listen to loud music all day and work late when I need to’. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘My work takes centre stage in my life,’ says Sally. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

‘‘tis always a tug of war between ever-present doubt and potential ecstasy when putting a show together, but I am thrilled with how it is shaping up,’ says Sally. Artwork: Landscape (7 trees) 130x110cm. Photo – courtesy of the Murray White Room.

Studio details featuring photographs and her Archibald Prize Finalist artwork The Huxleys. ‘The photo is merely a compositional point of departure. All the good stuff is found, not lost in translation,’ Sally explains. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Sally’s exhibition runs until December 20th. She’s keen to catch my breath, get to Africa, go to the Brueghel retrospective in Vienna and finish some portrait commissions next. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Elle Murrell
Thursday 15th November 2018

‘My work takes centre stage in my life.’ – Sally Ross.

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”.’

Sally Ross
November 16th to December 20th
Murray White Room
Sargood Lane, Melbourne

This Week

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!
Lucy Feagins
  6 hours ago

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...
Sasha Gattermayr
  22 hours ago

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Exploring The Microscopic + The Galactic With Brendan Huntley

A long-awaited new exhibition, spanning sculpture, painting, and paper works, from the revered Melbourne-based artist.
Elle Murrell

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Parade' By Sean Meilak

Iconography and architectural forms reimagined as contemporary curios, for our first-ever sculpture exhibition – opening next week!

Art

An Exhibition Of Never-Before-Seen Works By Mirka Mora

The new exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art, 'Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls', exploring the artist's enchanting univer...

This Week

A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life Of Chrissy Lafian, Founder And Creative Director Of Suku

With teams in both Melbourne and Bali, Chrissy lets us in on how she runs the lifestyle brand she's built from scratch!

On The Market

A Corner Store Turned Architectural Home Hits The Market In Brunswick

An 1883 shopfront turned architectural home with a pool and sauna is for sale in Brunswick!

News

Shop The Megan Park Archive Of More Than 10,000 Pieces!

Legendary fashion designer Megan Park has kept one of every piece she has designed over the last 22 years – and now, she’s opening h...

Studio Visit

Experimental Designer Jessie French Is Shaping A Seaweed-Centric Future

The Melbourne artist shares her process of creating seaweed-based bioplastics, the beautiful resin-like homewares she makes from it + what t...

Homes

A Heartwarming Home Of A Stylist (And Family!)

Justine and Bob Murphy's warm and welcoming family home is like a slice of the country... in Northcote!
Lucy Feagins
  6 hours ago

News

An Extensive Art And Design Festival Taking Over Brisbane!

Brisbane Art Design (BAD) is a public art program bringing the Sunshine State’s exemplary creative scene to the fore throughout the month
Sponsored

Gardens

A Slice Of Primeval Paradise In Bronte

Situated on a steep site in a sometimes blustery coastal location, the planting palette for this stunning garden in Sydney is both soft, and...

News

The Magic And Art Of Beekeeping With Honey Fingers

Mud Australia is hosting an exhibition and in conversation event with legendary urban beekeepers Honey Fingers, moderated by artist Stanisla...
Sally Tabart

Architecture

A Surprise Garden Brings This 'Pop-Up' Home To Life

Figr creates a unique language between architectural and landscaped spaces to truly maximise this small footprint home for a family of three...

Food

Julia's Autumnal Weeknight Rocket and Hazelnut Pesto Linguine

Julia Busuttil Nishimura's linguine with a herby rocket and hazelnut pesto is a riff on the classic weeknight family meal by adding earthy,
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Homes

A Magical Alistair Knox-Designed Rental In Eltham!

The seriously dreamy 1970s rental home of Pop and Scott trade manager Lucienne Van Sebille, and her partner Sebastian.

Stays

Northern NSW’s Newest Holiday House, Made From Recycled Materials

Book your stay at Rockhaven at Booyong – a new holiday house made from recycled materials located 40 minutes from Byron Bay.

Interiors

A Crash Course In Renovating Your Own Home From Top To Bottom, With BuildHer Collective

Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon of BuildHer Collective bring us a new book containing all the info you need to embark on building or ren...
Rebeka Morgan and Kribashini Hannon

Architecture

This Clever + Compact Bondi Home Feels Like A Never-Ending Holiday!

Fox Johnston architects managed to expand the footprint of this small and narrow Sydney site to create a generous, private haven!

Interiors

How To Nail The Bathroom Basics, According To Reece

A crash course in very excellent bathroom design, courtesy of bathrooms + kitchens merchandising leader at Reece Bathrooms, Daniella Santill...
Sasha Gattermayr
  22 hours ago

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

Exploring The Microscopic + The Galactic With Brendan Huntley

A long-awaited new exhibition, spanning sculpture, painting, and paper works, from the revered artist.
Elle Murrell

TDF Collect

TDF Collect Presents 'Parade' By Sean Meilak

Announcing our first-ever sculpture exhibition!

Art

An Exhibition Of Never-Before-Seen Works By Mirka Mora

The new exhibition at Heide Museum of Modern Art, 'Mirka Mora: Pas de Deux – Drawings and Dolls', exploring the artist's enchanting univer...

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.