They say your life can change in an instant.
That moment came for artist Sally Poole 15 years ago when she rolled her car and walked away with little more than whiplash. She was told to take it easy for a while and took up painting at Collie TAFE. Her first painting won her the Griffin Art Award. With that encouragement she says she bought another canvas and kept on painting.
Sally Poole is about to launch her first solo exhibition – Abundance at Collie Art Gallery opening 6-8pm, Friday, 9 April.
Exuberant, joyous, exciting are just a few words to describe the vivid and colourful work in Sally’s first exhibition. Sally’s work is strongly influenced by mandalas featuring owls, birds of peace, flowers and dot patterns aimed at bringing joy and calm to the viewer.
Today her ‘studio’ is the lounge room of the ‘haunted’ 100 year old house she shares with husband Kelvin
As her art progressed Sally’s TAFE art teacher Trudi Curran (also Head of Visual Arts at Collie Senior High School and now Chairman of Collie Art Gallery Group) encouraged her to exhibit.
“She kept pestering me and eventually I said ‘yes,’” Sally recalls. “Then I walked away and said to myself ‘that will never happen’. Because I couldn’t see myself being that structured or disciplined, but it has happened! So we are on track with 32 pieces. I’ve developed my own style as I’ve gone on I think. My older work is not as vibrant as my current work, but I’m probably more confident now in developing my own style.”
“I’d describe my style as slightly naïve and colourful. I want it to bring joy to people who look at it. When I paint I like to be in a really positive attitude and sometimes I think that might come through, bright and colourful. I’d also describe it as ‘pattern work’ repetition of colour. I start off and I really don’t know how it is going to go.”
I never sketch out what’s going to happen I just literally go to the canvas and let it evolve. I’ll start off without a definite plan and the plan will unfold and then I’ll put the background in last while other artists would put the background in first. I get caught up by the pattern and fine detail and then it takes a lot more work to fill in the gaps.”
Sally admits to being influenced by aboriginal art but is careful not to copy any particular style. “I find doing the dot work really calming, it slows my mind but I didn’t want to be a ‘white person’ doing aboriginal work.”
Describing the accident which turned her towards art, Sally says,” I was lucky to have survived. I hit the gravel, braked, spun my car and rolled it. Then a tree fell on it and wrote my car off. I was lucky I just got whiplash. When I went to look at the car the guy said I was lucky to be alive. So I’m grateful for that, obviously. So I had a lot of time on my hands. I was new to Collie and I didn’t know a lot of people so I joined TAFE and it was great. It’s a lovely group of ladies who inspire each other.”
Sally happily creates her vibrant paintings in the lounge room of her haunted 100 year old Collie. She is in no doubt that she and her husband Kelvin are ‘not alone’. “I’ve heard footsteps and the door open and someone walk in and there’s no one there. The TV and DVD player have turned themselves on and I’ve got up in the morning and all the kitchen drawers are open.”
It doesn’t seem to bother her though. “I’ve done a bit of research and it appears that there have been artists and a potter who’ve lived here before us’. There’s no doubt there’s a lot of creative spirit here,’ she says.
Part of the proceeds of the exhibition will be donated to Collie High School Gallipoli Tour and Beyond Blue.
“I always joke that this keeps me out of Graylands, it really does.”
Read all about Sally in Weekend Notes!