SALA Featured Artist - Sally SMART
Conversation piece #II, 2002
In her installation Conversation piece #II, South Australian-born artist Sally Smart revives the tradition of the silhouette, the parlour craft of portraiture made popular during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Smart remakes the group portrait or conversation piece by using the profiles, or cast shadows, of her family and friends along with various additions to generate humour and curiosity.
Although adopted predominantly as a benign leisure activity, silhouettes were also embraced by Johann Kasper Lavater, who used them to demonstrate his physiognomic theory that one’s external features were signifiers of internal traits. By accompanying her painted felt silhouettes with small numerals, Smart recalls the pseudo-scientific uses of the silhouette.
Theresa Walker’s wax medallion portraits hung nearby strike up a conversation with Smart’s felt silhouettes. Walker arrived in South Australia in 1837 and, like Smart, based her portraits on her friends and acquaintances, including Kertamaroo and Mocatta, Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains.