Sally Bourke

Interview by Jimon

1. Where do you currently reside and work?  I currently live in Newcastle, NSW, Australia.

2. How long have you been making art and what lead you to start?  I have been making art my entire life but started a serious practice about twenty years ago. I guess I started making art as a way to deal with the world around me. My life is easier with art in it.

3. Did you study art or is it inherent?  I studied art at university but left with one subject to completion.  Although I think art education is a great thing. I realized pretty quickly that time was of the essence with my practice: I didn’t want to spend any more time learning impractical things and I ultimately figured out that a degree would not make me a great artist.

4. How would you describe sally Bourke?  Sally Bourke is a driven person with very specific ideas!  Some say too soft, some say too hard.  I like what I do and I have a great life.

5. You have a portrait series which I am enthralled by. What is the inspiration behind this series?  The portrait series is a set of snapshots of my life and people I encounter. Sometimes they are self portraits but mainly there are people I know personally or have read about. I’m Interested mainly in the idea of humanity and what that entails. I like to catch people in an in-between space and explore that in paint. 

6. How do you choose the colors in your portrait series?  The colors that I choose can be quite arbitrary. I like to keep a great selection of colors on hand and I usually just pick one up according to what mood I’m in.

7. Do you imagine any narrative continuity for the characters in your paintings?  There is definitely narrative in my work. I think that the characters I portray are related and (in a timeline) that is usually derived from day to day encounters or remembered interactions.

8. Have you ever asked a buyer, why my art? What is it about your work that interests them?  I have asked that question because it’s always a thrill that a collector appreciates what I’m doing. The answers are never the same but I think a common thread is that people feel a sense of connection that is very personal to particular works. 

9. How do you define success?  Success to me is turning up every day and facing my paints. I’m very fortunate.

10. What kind of art hangs on the walls of your home?  The art that hangs on the walls at my house is a constant inspiration! I have a great art collection. I’m fortunate to own works by Gill Button, Blake Nubert, Dan Segrove, Peter Speight, Lucas Grogan, Nigel Milsom, Shaun Ellison and Luke Thurgate  to name a few of my favorites. I’d say that they all have skills that I don’t possess. So I learn from them just by having their work around.

11. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from an artist, about being an artist?  The best advice I’ve been given by another artist is to become like the armadillo. I guess this means to have a hard shell, stay soft in the middle and keep on rolling! 

12. What influences you as an artist?  Everything influences my work but the strongest contenders would be music, storytelling, ugliness and love if I had to use a few words.

13. How would you like to be seen as an artist years from now?   I’d like to be remembered as an artist who gave everything, was present and descriptive of our time.

14. If you could have dinner with 3 artists living/dead who would be at your table?  Three artists that would be at my table would be: Sterling Ruby, Louise Bourgeois and Sid Nolan.

15. Three things you can’t live without in your studio?  The three things I can’t live without in my studio are music, coffee and my studio mates!

16. Do you have a place/person/thing that you visit for inspiration?  I actually get the most inspiration from visiting my family in my home town. It’s hard to explain but I find it very grounding to go back to where I came from.

The Following pieces of his work are available for purchase.

Birthday girl



Back to List