Artefacts for the Anthropocene: Roadside Memorials
Waxed bones, copper, steel, thread
200cm H on 30 x 20cm bases
Photo credits David Paterson from Dorian Photography
Sally Simpson grew up by the sea in and now lives on a small farm outside of Canberra. She began her studies at the South Australian School of Art in 1982, graduating at the College of Fine Arts, Sydney and completed a Master of Philosophy in Sculpture at ANU School of Art in 2012. Simpson’s artworks are recordings of the interaction of humans and the land at a particular point in time as if for a future museum.
The sculptures refer to totems, crosses, trees and grave markers. They signify the sacred, symbolic and emblematic forms humans have used to express reverence and invoke awe and mystery.
I have chosen potent religious and spiritual motifs to tease out my pre-occupation with the conflicting needs of humans, animals and land, drawing on the material detritus of the fragile and degraded ecosystem where I live. They suggest both death and resurrection, and nature as a force that decays and regenerates.
Using bones reflects my wonder at the beauty, mystery and universality of the building blocks of life. Collecting them from the paddocks is a meditative process. I don’t distinguish between native and introduced species – the bones of all life forms have equal value. Dipping each one in wax and binding them together is a ritual of preservation, care, participation, and responsibility.
Although bones suggest loss and death, I respond to these material remnants with a sense of reverence, and the desire to preserve and organise them within an archetypal structure of remembrance and homage.
My personal sense of identity is embedded in the natural world of my surroundings. My work aspires to create ritual objects that express my concerns and hopes for the future, acknowledging that my time here is fleeting.