Piece by Piece
The output of prolific South Australian-born artist Sally Smart is a study in the radical nature of cutting as well as the poetry of moving parts.
We talk on the phone the day after Sally Smart arrives home from New York. “A lot of my practice has been pin, un-pin; pin, un-pin,” she explains. In her warehouse studio in North Melbourne, three long walls are dedicated to pinning, and a wooden floor has been installed over the original concrete to allow for comfortable movement as her private choreography unfolds. As with most studios, there is the necessary storage and office space, and the ongoing negotiation of “getting out of the office and into the studio…you do have to be a bit strict about that.” Smart describes working with ‘elements’ — the swathes and fragments of materials including fabric, paper, canvas and felt that make up her installations. “I have this constant [need] to work [with] the elements — rehearsing, constructing and documenting them,” she says.
Smart assembles, disassembles and reassembles these elements until they form assemblage images that occupy the boundary between rough and resolved. Over the years, her materials have been cut and pinned to walls in the form of pirate ships, human figures, trees, plants and furniture. Threaded through these tangible materials is a matrix of concepts, philosophy and politics developed throughout 30 years of artistic practice. These include choreography and movement, identity and history, and the theories and psychology of cutting. Once Smart is satisfied that the aesthetics and theories are perfectly tuned and attuned, each installation is packed up and shipped off for installation. At the time of writing, she is in the midst of a solo exhibition in New York... Subscribe to read this article in full
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