Sally Robinson travelled to Antarctica with the Australian Antarctic Division in the summer of 91/92.

Sally was born in England, where she lived until she was eight years old. Her family emigrated to Australia and since that time she has felt unequivocally Australian. Sally studied at the National Art School in Sydney between 1970 and 1973 and in 1974 took up a position as Designer at the Australian Museum in Sydney. The ten years spent at the Museum were significant, exposing her to and educating her about the variety and beauty of Australian landforms, flora and fauna. This resulted in a long commitment to landscape and natural history subjects in her screenprint editions. Only in recent years has her interest shifted to painting, primarily portraiture.

Sally’s first solo exhibition was at Bonython Gallery in Sydney in 1976. From 1976 to 1988 she lectured in Art (Alexander Mackie College, City Art Institute and the College of Fine Arts) and from 1989 to the present has worked as an artist and freelance designer. She has held solo exhibitions around Australia and has participated in group shows nationally and internationally. Sally’s work is represented in the collections of the Australian National Gallery, State Galleries, Regional Galleries and many other public and private collections.

Antarctic impression

“Artist Sidney Nolan spent eight days in Antarctica, in 1964. This time served as his inspiration for a series of magnificent paintings which I first saw as a child. These images remained vivid in my memory and ignited my own desire to visit Antarctica. An application to the Australian Antarctic Division’s then titled Humanities Program was accepted and in 1992 I joined a resupply voyage, on MV Icebird, to Davis and Mawson stations and majestic Heard Island. Relatively few artists have been fortunate enough to set foot on the icy southern continent, but those who have are inevitably awed by its size and desolation, yet fall in love with its strength and beauty. My background reading also resulted in a fascination with heroic tales of human endurance and exploration in Antarctica.

During two weeks there I took numerous reference photos. Back in my Sydney studio, montages of these images were combined with historical material to describe specific places visited. Hand drawn and photographic stencil techniques were used to translate the montages into a suite of 10 limited edition screenprints Antarctic Impressions (1992–93). Antarctic backdrops have also been included in recent paintings including a portrait of Dr Phillip Law.”

In 2013 Sally said she needed a new challenge, "After years producing screenprints depicting the wild landscapes of Australia and Antarctica, I needed a creative change and returned to painting. However, by this time stencilling was a large part of my technical repertoire to build up strong colours and textures, so I adapted those techniques to the application of paint on canvas.

While also producing abstracts, I enjoy the intimacy of portraiture. Dots, dashes and lines produce a complex aggregation of colour and tone that flicker across the painting’s surface yet, in their juxtaposition, create a synthetic reality akin to the pixellated way we see the world in the media.

In recent years, my portraits have been finalists in portrait competitions including the Archibald, Moran, Shirley Hannan and Portia Geach Portrait Prizes. Last September I was the winner of the Portia Geach Award with a portrait of my elderly mother after chemotherapy had robbed her of her beautiful hair”.