Professor Sally Smart
Australia’s Top Contemporary Artist
Destined to be an artist, Professor Sally Smart is where censorship meets avant-garde and freedom. One of Australia’s top contemporary visual artists, Smart enjoys global representation for her work in large-scale cut-out assemblage installations. The recipient of numerous awards, Professor Smart is currently Vice -Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne, and Deputy Chair at the National Association for the Visual Arts.
“I grew up in a very remote part of Australia – the Flinders Ranges. My parents owned a rural property and worked on sheep, cattle and grain. Every morning I’d talked into a radio receiver and do my lessons by correspondence.” Her earliest inspiration was her great-aunt Bessie Davidson, a famous Australian artist living in Paris then. “As a young girl I knew there are women artists and that was really important for my own identity. It gave me a frame, so I just set about wanting to be an artist and now I am.” Smart attended an art school in South Australia, then the Victorian College of the Arts where she did her postgraduate in painting and master’s in fine arts.
I take things on to make sense of the world and make art. I hope my methodologies, interpretation and philosophies can give pathways to find poetry, to give voice, image and space to women.
Among her notable work, The Exquisite Pirate enlivens the legacy of female pirates. “I discovered there were actually a lot of women pirates, their histories often forgotten. Now I’m working on the artists of the Ballets Russes, discovering their colonialism, Orientalism, sort of like a western view of the east.”
Often called the politics of cutting, Smart sees her work from a feminist point of view, to cut things out of history and reconstruct them, to place women back in history if they have been cut out. “Women are disadvantaged in many industries. We must try harder, go further. It happens with people on the periphery but that’s probably an advantage for me.”
To young artists, I say, ‘education, momentum and collaboration’. Don’t get too hung up on failures.
Regardless of that bias, there are plenty of high moments for Smart. “Seeing my sculpture in Docklands, 19 metres across and 12 metres high, seeing the pieces being craned in the sky, that was pretty amazing for me. My first show of The Exquisite Pirate in New York was a highlight too.”
“Art is not a necessity, but we need art more than anything. That’s the paradox of art. When it’s taken away, then you realise something incredible is missing. Art has the power to make sense and manifest. It gives us a future, ways of celebrating, acknowledgment and relief.”
Sally Smart教授注定要成为一名艺术家，投身这个检视和自由前卫邂逅糅合的领域。身为澳大利亚最顶尖的当代视觉艺术家之一，她的作品在世界各地都有广泛的代表性。Sally Smart教授曾多次获奖，目前担任墨尔本大学副校长学者研究员，同时也是国家视觉艺术协会的副主席。
“我在澳大利亚偏远的弗林德斯山脉(Flinders Ranges)成长。父母有个生活农场，饲养牛羊和种植粮食。每天早上，我都要对着收音机进行函授课程。”她最初的启蒙来自她的姑婆Bessie Davidson，是当时旅居巴黎的一位著名澳大利亚艺术家。“作为懵懂的年轻女孩，女性艺术家的存在对于我的身份认知非常关键。这为我打造了开始想成为艺术家的梦想框架，直至现在完全实践。”
Sally首先就读澳大利亚南部的一所艺术学校，随后进入维多利亚艺术学院(Victorian College of the Arts)完成绘画学士和美术硕士学位。在她出色的创作中，“绝妙海盗”让女海盗的文化历史变得活泼生动。“我发现实际上有很多女海盗的存在，但她们的事迹经常被遗忘。目前我在研究俄罗斯芭蕾舞团的舞蹈艺术家，探索他们的殖民与东方主义，像西方观望东方的视角。”
由于Sally Smart从女权主义者的角度看待本身的创作，她常被称为 “切割政治学”(politics of cutting)，从历史的角度切入裁剪并重构，将女性重新置于历史之中。“女性在许多行业领域处于劣势，我们必须更加努力才能前进，这些常发生在周边人们身上，但这对于我可能是一项优势。”
Text by Sloane Patterson / Photography by Layzhoz Yeap