“My work comes out of my way of life. I attempt to continue the timeless tradition of humans making artefacts from materials at hand in order to make sense of the natural world. Land changes constantly, but so do our values about it, and constant change is what interests me” (Sally Simpson, 2013).
Sally Simpson’s work reflects her fascination with the way values and meaning, assigned to land and the environment, change over time according to point of view, culture and situation. She uses unexpected methods to transform natural and human-made materials found at particular sites, creating sculptures that evoke artefacts, and specimens and drawings that reflect the fragility of the environment.
The purpose of creating these unique and delicate sculptural objects is to record the interaction between humans and the land at a particular point in history, as if for a future museum.
For Venerated Remains the artist collected materials at Lake Mokoan in Victoria – a human-made lake in the process of being converted by local council into Winton Wetlands. The materials employed in her sculptures, including discarded irrigation pipe, lace, mud and fish bones, reflect the fragility of this environment in flux. The intimate scale and finely applied gold-leaf enhance an association with unearthed treasures. Her drawings (graphite or charcoal with mud) of mummified fish, found at the edge of Lake Mokoan, suggest the provisional nature of survival in a changing environment.
Sally Simpson began her studies at the South Australian School of Art in 1982 and completed her BA at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney. She was the recipient of the Meroogal Women’s Art Award in 2006 and the ANU Student Drawing Prize in 2007.
Her Master of Philosophy in Practice-Led Research in Sculpture at ANU School of Art was informed by materials and influences from her life on a small farm near Berry, NSW, and participation in Contested Landscapes (2010), a field studies project run by the Environment Studio at ANU, focusing on Lake Mokoan near Benalla, Victoria. She currently lives on land near Canberra.
Venerated Remains is Simpson’s fourth solo show – her first in Sydney. She has exhibited widely in group shows and competitions, including the Deakin University Small Sculpture Award and Sculpture by the Sea. In 2014 she will be travelling to Lake Gregory/Parraku in northern WA with a group of artists and writers. This lake system is the site of the oldest artefacts in Australia, and presents a variety of cultural, archaeological and environmental layers.