In her latest exhibition, Relinquished Control, Sally Walk embarks upon unfamiliar territory. Personally driven by order, monotony and sameness puts the artist at ease and in her practice, creates a familiar script to follow. A technically exceptional and highly regarded ceramicist, this has led to aesthetically and technically ‘perfect’ forms. Walk’s foundational drive to structure her world was upset by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, and the artist’s previous body of work, Perfection Flawed, made an attempt to counterbalance an intrusion upon order by imposing and exaggerating strict rules of symmetry and balance.
Walk’s latest body of work is about the exact opposite. Now free to release that need for order, Relinquished Control sees the introduction of more sculpturally organic forms. Indeed, the artist has observed that her conceptions of perfection were hindering her ability to see beyond that which made her feel safe (technique, symmetry, order). With a newly re-discovered freedom, Walk has a new perspective on what is perfect, where it is acceptable to be a little ‘off centre’. In this latest series of ceramic sculptures, there is a deliberate relinquish of control, finding the beauty in the hidden spaces of morphed organic forms.
In her art practice, Walk is directly influenced by her surroundings – especially the beauty in patterns that are apparent in both natural and human made objects and environments. These patterns and Walk’s perception of them is also influenced by her reflections on the human condition. In her own words, “I am forever trying to understand my place in the world and so my work is very much a symbolic discovery of self.” A love of line and strong contrast is ever present in Walk’s work, with the use of black in particular utilised as a metaphor for strength and determination. These elements are used repeatedly by the artist and indeed have been a passion since an early age. Her repeated practice of creating patterns, a mimetic of those she experiences in her everyday life, provides the artist with a meditative outlet, allowing her focus and concentration. From this, an idea of perfection has always been central to her practice and way of finding meaning. The concept of “an ideal” is something that Walk typically strives to in her work, yet this body of work releases the internal tension that this ambition can create. By relinquishing her predilection towards perfection, Walk has discovered, in this exhibition, the importance of imperfection. It is a motivation that propels further exploration and evolution, which are patterns within the human condition itself.
Sally Walk is a Melbourne based ceramicist who has been working in clay for over 25 years. She has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Most recently at Taoxichuan in Jingdezhen China. In 2015 she was awarded the Lorenzo il Magnifico Award for Ceramics at the Florence Biennale. Her work is held in private and public institutions internationally including the Chencheng Museum (China) and the Seto Cultural Glass and Ceramics Museum in Seto (Japan). Walk is also a member of the UNESCO International Academy of Ceramics (IAC).