Sally & Me

Rochfort Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition The Black Honey of Summer‘ by artist Sally Stokes.
The exhibition will run from 23rd June – 15th August 2021.

Journal Entry by Tony Scotland, husband and loving manager to Sally Stokes.

“I grew up in a home with no original art. There were 3 ducks on a wall, and an awful print of horses prancing around at the beach. There were only two books; the Bible, treasured by my mother and the latest Harold Robbins thriller guarded by my father. The one saving grace was that both my parents and my maternal grandparents loved music and singing.

So music, yes, but no visual art.

42 years ago when I met Sally, I had never been to an art gallery.

Tony Scotland

As I write this thank you letter to Sally, I look around the main room and I am surrounded by paintings and books, especially books on art.

I see paintings by Sally Stokes, Elisabeth Cummings, Idris Murphy, Ross Laurie, Charmaine Pike, Ana Young, David Collins, Ana Pollak; sculptures by Harrie Fasher and Jenny Pollak and ceramics by Sadhana Peterson. I am absolutely immersed in a world of visual treasures. My mind is constantly stimulated and energised by what I see around me.

Sally Stokes, Art Residency, Kelton Plain – Snowy Mountains

Now, looking back, we have been to MOMA, the Met and the Guggenheim in New York, the Tate in London, the Accademia and Uffizi in Florence, the Louvre, L’Orangerie, Musee d’Orsay, the Pompidou and Quai Branly in Paris.

Not to mention dozens of other brilliant galleries all over the world. In Australia, we are regular visitors to the MCA, AGNSW and whenever we go interstate we visit the National Gallery of Victoria,  Art Gallery of South Australia, GOMA in Brisbane and the Art Gallery of South Australia. We often travel to the desert around Alice Springs in winter, and we might visit Yuendumu, Papunya Tula and other indigenous art centres.

So it has been an extraordinary transformation. From a life devoid of visual art to a life enmeshed in art.

Lisa Rochfort once said “every artist needs a Tony”. When someone puts what you do in a broader perspective, it makes you wonder how many artists have partners or friends or relations who help with all “the other bits” besides the painting itself. I’m happy do the other bits because it means Sally can focus solely on her painting, which is at the heart of everything. The painting is where Sally makes the magic happen, but without the stretchers, the paints, the framing, the entering of competitions, the photography, the naming of the paintings, the maintenance of the website, the delivering, collecting and storage of her paintings, there would be a lot less time to make the magic happen. There is also the daily moving of paintings between studio and house while the works are in progress. Sally will be reading or watching a movie in the evening and glance up and say “Ah, that’s what I need to do!” Sometimes she arrives for lunch and says she has made progress, only to tell me by dinner time that she has “destroyed it”. Next day the painting has been “rescued” or “saved” and the cycle of creation continues. Each finished painting is the result of many hours of wrestling with the work; agony, joy and struggle.

Sally painting on the banks of the Snowy River, Island Bend – Snowy Mountains

Besides the pragmatic, there is also the romantic. Every morning I make breakfast for Sally in bed and I read a Mary Oliver poem. It’s a way of connecting at the the start of every day. If the day begins well, it will often end well. 

Sally is quite shy and reticent about self-promotion. As a team, it’s a relief one of us is a natural marketer. I love to sing the praises of her and her work.

Sally’s inclusion in the Salon des Refusés in 2020 was a great honour as was winning the Peoples Choice Award in the Paddington Art Prize in 2020. Winning the Muswellbrook Art Prize in 2021 is perhaps the biggest achievement to date.

As an eternal optimist, and close observer of her work, I think Sally is on the verge of even greater things. The best is yet to come” Tony Scotland


For Artwork Enquiries and Catalogue Requests
Please contact – 0438 700 712
or email [email protected]