Sally Smart (born 1960, Quorn, South Australia) is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, recognized for her large-scale cut-out assemblage installations and increasingly, performance and video. Her practice engages identity politics and the relationships between the body, thought and culture. She has long been concerned with the feminine identity from both a contemporary and historical perspective. The methods she employs in creating her work, including stitching, sewing, and more recently artisan embroideries, are often traditionally termed as female practices.
'Sally Smart’s work in The Choreography of Cutting differs from other manifestations of collage in 20th and 21st Century art precisely because of movement. Her installations show a choreographic interest in dynamic space and group composition that emerges from her study of Rudolf Laban’s geometries and Martha Graham’s methods of dramatic assemblage, as well as her response to the disturbing qualities of a Pina Bausch scene. It is however through rhythm and the intensification of the corporeal in trace-forms, that Smart’s cutting becomes a gestural performance derived from action. The convergence between movement, gesture and modernity has a significant historical lineage in both art and social life that is pertinent to a better understanding of Smart’s collages'. (Rachel Fensham)
Sally Smart, who recently retraced early 20th century Australian painter Bessie Davidson’s life in Paris, has worked with leading dancers Deanne Butterworth and Jo Lloyd to create a new cross-disciplinary video installation that represents Davidson’s relationship with lifelong friend, and rumoured lover, Margaret Preston. This newly commissioned work by Smart embodies the timeless psychological tensions for these women, grappling with the avant-garde in art and life, at a traumatic period in human history – with war, isolation, gender, and modernity. It was exhibited in 2020 with key works by Davidson at the Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia.
Smart is represented in significant public collections including: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; GOMA/Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, NY; The William Benton Museum of Art, Connecticut’s State Art Museum; British Museum, London. She is currently Vice -Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne and a board member (Deputy Chair) National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) and was awarded an Australia Council Fellowship (2014) and Sackler Fellow Artist-in Residence, University of Connecticut, USA (2012).