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Artist Sally Anderson wins Brett Whiteley travelling art scholarship

Sydney Morning Herald 12 October 2017

Linda Morris

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Just one day after opening her first commercial solo exhibition in Sydney, artist Sally Anderson has won the 2017 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship.

The 27-year-old was awarded the prize, a three-month residency at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris and $40,000 in living and travel expenses, for her painting Dilling's Bromeliads with Gullfoss Falls, an intriguing pairing of landscape and still life.

Sally Anderson (left) with Wendy Whiteley.  Photo: Kate Geraghty

"What drew me immediately into Sally's work is the freedom and clarity in her use of paint," said guest judge, the Australian painter Ildiko Kovacs.

"Beautiful areas of abstracted shapes, alongside her use of the figurative, sit comfortably and feel coherent. There is a naturalness in her ability to marry the two."

The travelling art scholarship was established by Brett Whiteley's mother Beryl in 1999 and is open to emerging artists aged between 20 and 30.

In its 19th year, the prize allows the winning artist firsthand experience of Europe's dynamic contemporary art scenes while simultaneously immersed in art history and culture, an opportunity Brett Whiteley had when he won the Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship aged 20.

Archibald prize winners Ben Quilty, Mitch Cairns and Marcus Wills are previous winners along with James Drinkwater, a finalist of the Wynne and Sulman Prizes.

Anderson's winning painting juxtaposes memories from her home near Lismore, working at a bromeliad nursery, with a waterfall scene from remote Iceland which she visited on an Association of Icelandic Visual Artists residency in 2014.

"I'm fascinated by memory, the capacity of objects and landscapes to hold memory and how that doesn't change [even as] you change," she said.

"I was working at the bromeliad farm, it was only for six months but a lot happened in that six months. From when I started working there to when I finished I was in an entirely different position emotionally, a lot had happened. The bromeliad became the symbol of that, like a souvenir, actually, in the same way as you go away and bring a souvenir back and it doesn't mean much to other people but to you it does."

Anderson pursued art thinking she would become an art teacher. Specialising in printmaking, she graduated from the University of NSW Art and Design in 2014 but concentrated on painting following the visit to Iceland. A mainly abstract artist, only lately has she introduced objects into her work.

A second painting of Anderson's hanging at the Brett Whiteley studios features hydrangeas and a small window that frames a copy of a painting by Anderson's partner, the artist Guy Maestri. Maestri will accompany the emerging artist to Paris.

Part of Anderson's show with the Olsen Gallery explores the idea of context and association, giving new meaning to Maestri's paintings on her own canvas.

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