Featured artist Sally Smith calls New Zealand her home. The environment that surrounds her home on Waiheke Island is what Smith calls her work’s inspiration.
Graduating from Auckland University with a Bachelor of Architecture, Smith originally developed her own architectural practice for over twenty years before deciding to completely dedicate her career to art and design. Smith’s recent work focuses on her distinct wall sculptures that are primarily made with bronze. The Eisenhauer Gallery spoke with Smith to understand her work and how her collection explores and interprets the space around her so well. Here is what she had to say…
Q: The Eisenhauer Gallery appears to be the only art gallery in the United States that represents and offers your work. How did you develop a relationship with The Eisenhauer?
Sally Smith: I have my own gallery in the heart of the main village Oneroa. Elizabeth (The Owner) and Paul came wandering in during our last summer and were quite taken by my work commenting on how Waiheke had a similar coastal feel as an island to Martha’s Vineyard.
We all got chatting about my work various aspects of my sculpture and from there Elizabeth extended a most generous invitation for me to come and exhibit at The Eisenhauer Gallery.
Q: Have you had the pleasure of visiting Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard yet? If not, talk to us about your upcoming show in July and what you are looking forward to the most out of your trip.
Sally Smith: It will be my first time visiting Martha’s Vineyard when I travel there for the opening of the exhibition so I am looking forward to getting a feel for the landscape and wild life of the island. In particular I study bird life for my works and I am looking forward to doing some bird spotting while I am there. Coming from an island in the South Pacific I am interested in experiencing an island on the edge of the Atlantic.
Q: Do you have plans to continue building your reputation and presence in the U.S.?
Sally Smith: I have sold many works from my NZ gallery to USA art enthusiasts who have visited Waiheke Island and who continue to follow my work and I see this exhibition as a way to build on that relationship with the USA art market and to introduce a wider audience to my work. Many of my works reference coastal fauna so exhibiting with The Eisenhauer particularly appeals due to its island location.
Q: Are there any particular differences or similarities that stand out between art fans and enthusiasts from the United States compared to those in your home country of New Zealand?
Sally Smith: We get a large number of international visitors to Waiheke over our Summer and for me no matter where someone comes from in the world if a piece of art speaks to someone you get a similar response of either “Wow!” or complete quiet and contemplation as they absorb the work.I get great pleasure from seeing the responses of people viewing art whether positive or negative as they mean a dialogue has been created which both parties benefit from.
Q: You developed your original career as an Architect for over 20 years before transitioning as a full-time artist. Describe to your fans and other aspiring artists about this period of time and what gave you the confidence to make such a commitment?
Sally Smith: I come from a family of artists and architects on both sides and had always excelled in art and design during my schooling. On selected a tertiary education path I applied for both Fine Arts and Architecture only to find I was accepted by both schools within the university. I chose to study architecture while continuing my art practice on the side. I worked in many areas of architecture from commercial, high rise through to residential before establishing my own practice on Waiheke Island doing high-end homes. During all that time the work that most appealed to me was the design aspect of architecture but found as time went on I was spending less time designing and more time doing administration while at the same time my artwork was selling at a rate that I was struggling to keep up with. It was a relatively easy decision when a prime spot became available in our local village that looks out over the bay to open an art gallery and slowly make the transition to full-time artist.
Q: The theme of your work mostly focuses on nature and how particular animals interact with their environment. This is a common theme among the artists who are represented by The Eisenhauer Gallery. What can your fans and fans of The Eisenhauer take away from your collection that is particularly special or unique?
Sally Smith: As an artist trained in architecture I am interested in exploring space, perspective and volume in my work as well as capturing movement, and this is what I explore in my flock works. My works have no boundaries, they are free to fly off around the walls rather than sit contained within a frame. This is how nature is, it cannot be contained and I enjoy celebrating that freedom.
Q: What is your favorite piece of your collection and why?
Sally Smith:I am getting great pleasure form On Dusk Series 12 at the moment due to the movement it captures.
Q: Do you have a set message or experience that you want your work to convey to viewers? What type of reaction do you hope to solicit from your fans and first-time viewers?
Sally Smith: Celebrate life and live life to its fullest. If I can put a smile on the face of first time viewers, then I am happy.
Q: Speaking to the collection you have with The Eisenhauer Gallery, do you prefer working and developing single pieces or sets? How do you decide if you are going to create something like “Grand Kina” opposed to “Dons Legacy?”
Sally Smith: All of my ideas come about from a single idea or experience that I have had that then lead me on to looking at how I can communicate that idea or feeling in my work. Whether the piece is a collection or single work will be decided on what I feel is the best form to communicate my ideas with. In Don’s Legacy, it is about a dialogue between a number of ideas so a narrative is formed with a collection of forms grouped together, while the single Kina – Sea Urchin works talk specifically about one thing which is ensuring our seas stay clean so that our sea life is not endangered.
Q: Do you have a website and any social media profiles that your fans in Edgartown can connect to you through?
Sally Smith: My gallery on Waiheke Island is named Toi Gallery, Toi meaning art in Maori. My gallery has the web page www.toigallery.com and Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/toi.gallerywaiheke ***If you enjoyed learning more about Sally and her work, feel free to browse through her complete collection of wall sculptures with The Eisenhauer Gallery!