About Anthony Sawrey
Australian artist Anthony Sawrey completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Sydney College of the Arts (2004-07) and a Masters of Fine Art at Victoria College of the Arts Melbourne 2008-09. His major studies were in studio painting but in time he began looking for new materials and alternative methods to develop and bring his ideas to the outdoors environment.
While completing his Master’s degree he worked applying advertising logos to turf at televised sporting events at places such as AAMI park stadium and the MCG. The tools of this trade, (Line marking fluids and motorized spray pumps) gave him the means to apply his ideas and working processes to an entirely new array of surfaces: Ones that are not limited by doorways and stretcher dimensions.
The form is called Environment Painting. It utilizes water based non-toxic line marking compounds applied to grass and other natural surfaces to produce images; be it text, figurative, abstract or conceptual. Consequently, every landscape, every patch of grass or expanse of gravel, becomes a potential canvas: One that leads the artistic process into constantly changing and challenging territory. Blurring the lines between painting and sculptural installation, environment painting also signifies a shift from a practice that is predominantly studio based, relatively self-directed and solitary, to something far more collaborative.
He has produced commissions for numerous exhibitions and clients including Sculpture by the Sea Bondi in 2013, Lorne Sculpture Biennial in 2014 and 2016, Sculpture in the Vineyards Wollombi 2012-2014, Moreland Sculpture Prize 2013-14, Melbourne Test Sites public arts program in 2016 and numerous other independent installations over the last six years from South Australia to Queensland.
By shifting his painting practice into the natural world it has allowed him to work in locations normally off limits to painters; ones that are subject to the vagaries of wind, sun and rain. Gallery walls are dissolved, conventional viewing positions become irrelevant, and a viewer can walk into a painting to experience its color and design from the inside out. The notions of surface, so integral to the experience of viewing painting are reconfigured; the weave of canvas replaced with the patterns of grass, pebbles and vegetation. However, the very act of obscuring the ground with color actually focuses one’s attention on the processes of nature, its growth, decay and renewal, the weather and topography.
In this regard his environment works share more with the language of sculpture and spatial practice, ‘60s land art and the fleeting creations of artists such as Richard Long or Robert Smithson. Like many of their works, Environment Painting is ephemeral: The work fades with time and mowing and its traces in history existing only through writing, documentation imagery and memory.
2022 SWELL ARTWORK – Safe Place, Anthony Sawrey
Anthony Sawrey’s installation is an Environment Painting. Titled Safe Place, the ribbon of red and white diamonds representing safety tape spiral inward, inviting the viewer to follow, sit down on the grass at the centre and relax. Unfortunately, Safe Place is ephemeral: its destiny is to fade away with weather and time, blurring the line between painting, installation and the permanence of sculpture.
Come and see for yourself at SWELL Sculpture Festival, Pacific Parade, Currumbin 9-18 September.