Sally McKay | Making Waves

Sally McKay | Making Waves 2021

April 28th – May 16th

Opening evening Thursday May 6. RSVP essential.

See all available works below.

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Sally McKay | Making Waves


I spend a lot of time in the Ocean. The Ocean is a place where I find out where the edge of my knowledge, skills and fear are. I feel like entering the embrace of the sea is akin to creating art, you never really get a handle on it because it’s always evolving and it requires the desire and ability to cross the threshold into the unknown.

Deep down, I think humans all possess an innate tendency to seek connection with the Ocean, to be close to the big blue. There is something about the ocean that draws us in and fascinates us all, no wonder, it is the most omnipresent substance on earth.

The Ocean is something so vast it is easy to think of it as indestructible. However, the Ocean is now the warmest it has been since scientists began measuring, more acidic than at any other time in the past 14 million years and losing oxygen, which is fundamental to virtually all marine life.[1]

So why do we not care about the Ocean in the same way we care about Nature, when the Ocean covers 72% of the Earth’s surface, and plays a critical role in maintaining the global environmental systems we all depend upon?

Australia has the most diverse Ocean’s on the planet so why don’t we have the same number of Marine Sanctuaries as we do National Parks? These are the questions that swim around in my mind.

We are at the forefront of a wave of research and breakthrough science that is illuminating the devastating impact we have had on our Oceans and now many scientists have concluded that the single most important thing we can do for the Ocean, beyond cutting carbon dioxide emissions, is to create fully protected Ocean Parks.[2]

This exhibition represents the Ocean Sanctuaries we can protect together. Safe-havens that shelter eco-systems from human exploitation: over-fishing, mining and waste disposal.

We need to create a network of these Marine Reservces covering at least 30% of the Ocean. So far only 1% of the Ocean is fully protected.[3]

[1] Julia Short “Ocean Acidification to Hit Levels Not Seen in 14 Million Years”, July 2018, “Declining Oxygen in the Global Ocean and Coastal Waters” Science 359, no.6371 January 2018

[2] Callum. M. Roberts et al., “Marine Reserves Can Mitigate and Promote Adaptation to Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114, no.24 June 2017

[3] Briggs. J. “Recommendations to International Union for Conservation of Nature to Improve Marine Protected Area Classification and Reporting” July 2020


A finalist in the Fisher Ghost Art Award, a regular at Sydney Contemporary Art Fair and invited participating artist in the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australian based artist Sally McKay has just completed a new series of work titled “Making Waves” to stage her fourth SOLO show for .M Contemporary Gallery in Darlinghurst.

Working in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Centennial Parklands and Greenpeace, the research process and local engagement is a vital part of the development of the images and essential to the integrity of her work.


McKay has built a series of large-scale Installations intertwining green waste, endemic and native plants and water.

The abstract forms within each body of water were constructed carrying out detailed and lengthy mathematical, geometric and engineering tests.


“There is a light and energy you sometimes see in the ocean when the sand patterns reflect sunlight through waves, for me it creates a profound, immersive and invigorating sense of renewal, that is what I’m attempting to create”.

“The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining juxtaposition between immediate aesthetic engagement and a subsequent message of awareness”.

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