Saturday, 21 April 2018

Sally Clarke

link to artist's website

8 April - 12 May       The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018

Sally Clarke with assistance from Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor, The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018, Wonder Cloths (for domestic cleaning),150 x 200cm.

Sally Clarke’s “Wonder Quilt” could be part of a small but concise exhibition currently on display at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Three works from the 1970’s and 80’s, each made in a technique usually associated with women’s craft. Ewa Pachucka a Polish artist then living in Sydney crocheted a vast sculptural installation, a Melbourne artist Elizabeth Gower contributed a wall sculpture sewn from diaphanous fabric while the American Miriam Schapiro’s work is a collage of appliqued fabrics. Each work, like Sally’s has one foot in the male orientated tradition of fine art and another in the home spun female craft of sewing and each stakes a claim for the Feminist with in our understanding of art.

In a satiric manner Sally evokes a further analogy with “women’s work” by choosing a domestic cleaning product “Wonder Cloths” as her quilting medium. She further challenges the masculine concept of the author, the so-called auteur by working from within a collective of collaborating artists - Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor.

This is not a heroic expression of individuality that proposes an alternate reality. It is a subversive conversation that seeks to alter and succeeds in altering our collective understanding of reality. It is the project of Feminism.

- Tony Twigg

Sally Clarke with assistance from Lesley Clarke, Brenda Factor, Frances Factor and Trudi Factor, The Wonder Quilt, 1998-2018, Wonder Cloths (for domestic cleaning), 150 x 200cm.  The wonder quilt exists as both a domestic quilt and geometric painting. Its underlying grid structure is shared by decorative patterning and high modernism. As an organising structure for painting the grid goes back at least to the Renaissance period; as an organising structure for pattern it has existed for thousands of years. Many machines and hands have contributed to the Wonder Quilt. The Wonder Cloths - synthetic and lurid - were manufactured in Taiwan before they travelled the high seas to their distribution point in Sydney. The quilt was made with assistance from a small collective of women family members in my lounge room, an antidote to the model of the lone, tormented genius artist. The quilt was revised in 2018.

About Sally Clarke
Informed by a background in both social sciences and visual arts, Sally Clarke's practice critiques the hierarchical and, in particular, gendered constructions of space and the way spaces, materials, and bodies become defined from one another through the attribution of visual, social and cultural codes. Clarke engages with the way power, and the desire for it, drives such divisions and how this plays out in artistic representations and the cultural contexts from which they emerge. Her works explore how these types of relationships can be re-imagined.

Much of Clarke's work has been preoccupied with material and visual significations of domestic space and all that entails. She explores how low-status materials, forms and representations can take their position among very public and dominant discourses including high modernism, the master narratives of landscape painting and contemporary conceptual art through media such as paint, plasticine and floor vinyl and formats that range from two-dimensional surfaces to installation.

Clarke completed her PhD in Philosophy (Fine Arts) in 2008 and, after fourteen years of working as an academic at the College of Fine Arts UNSW, Sydney, established AirSpace Projects with artist and designer Brenda Factor in 2014. AirSpace Projects formed part of her artistic project until 2017 when it transitioned into its new life as a not-for-profit association. 

- Sally Clarke