Nikki Main and Sally Blake ✿ Wood wide web


2 June 2022

Sally Blake, Sacred Thought, 2022. Pen on handmade kozo/abaca paper. 400 x 400 mm. Photo: the artist

Nikki Main and Sally Blake share their thoughts that have inspired a series of sublime works which delicately bind space.

The word web immediately conjures the fine network of threads constructed by a spider to catch its prey; busy spiders building and endlessly repairing their web. It is also used to describe a complex system of interconnected elements. Both of these ideas inform the works created by Nikki and Sally for Web.

Ecology, the word stemming from Greek oikos ‘house’, is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Scientists tell us that there are 8 years to restore climate balance and repair our house, Earth. Sally and Nikki explore the patterning, the interconnected whole, that holds each of us in relation to all other living and non-living things. By understanding this webby whole, we may gain the necessary respect and humility necessary for change and renewal.

Web brings together the art practices of Nikki Main and Sally Blake, and their mediums of glass, textiles, wire basketry and drawing. In a time of increasing ecological crises and loss, their works visualise the interconnected whole and interdependence of all living things. In both their individual pieces and in works that weave together their diverse materials they explore the intersecting line and forms made up of patterned ‘micro elements’.  Their work shares a subtle aesthetic, inviting contemplation rather than drama or prescription. Sally’s use of her signature natural dyes and fire red copper wire complements Nikki’s palette of glass powders drawn from earth, soil, ocean and river water. This combined natural colour palette represents all the elements.

Sally Blake and Nikki Main are both mid-career artists who have fore-fronted ecology in their artistic practices. They met in their university days, having both left careers in the health and welfare sector (Sally as a paediatric nurse and midwife and Nikki as a health educator). Sally was in the textiles workshop and Nikki in glass workshop.

Inspired by new understandings of interconnectedness or ‘mutualism’ such as the concept of the “wood wide web” Sally and Nikki draw on many sources to inspire their work. In Web they hope that by fore-fronting elemental forces and meditative natural patterning they can contribute to conditions for regeneration and renewal.

Sally Blake and Nikki Main, Alongside I and II, 2022. Blown glass, murrini inclusion, 400 x 170 x 170 mm. Woven copper wire, 570 x 220 x 220 mm. Photo: Sally Blake

Nikki Main and Sally Blake, Web, Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, NSW, Australia 29 May – 17 July 2022.

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