Seed The Change; an exhibition by Sally McKay

By Madison Allen

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‘Seed Harvesting,’ Light Box (2019)


Intricate structure and colour aesthetic, employed in Sally McKay’s photographic images, encloses an untold story; one of rapid unseeded biodiversity extinction. The opening of McKay’s third solo exhibition at .M Contemporary, Seed the Change, posed unsuspecting viewers with difficult questions.

“What have we lost?” 

“How are we unaware of this loss?” 

“And what are the eventual consequences?

Musings all contained within hypnotic mandala swirls of aesthetically pleasing detail and complexity. A step closer, and a glimpse beyond the hypnotic; McKay’s photographic images and light boxes unleash these confronting questions in unexpected ways. It is this juncture, between aesthetics and controversial subject matter, that McKay has centralised. The wonderful and fastidious slowly morph the chaotic and disordered into systematic moments of awareness. And in a similar fashion to McKay’s mandala spirals – the audience is given a fleshed, encompassing story of unnoticed beauty and unnoticed loss.


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‘Seed Growth,’ photographic print (2019)


In Seed the Change, McKay’s primary focus is the Moreton Bay Chestnut, a plant native to a few places within Australia and the Pacific region. Over 3,000 collected seeds, seed pods and native plants are methodically and thoughtfully arranged on a large platform to be documented within various instalments of light and colour. Forever contained within the photographic medium, McKay wants the Moreton Bay Chestnut seed to signify the masses of seed types, and the accompanying knowledge, lost over the past 100 years.


During her opening night discussion, McKay delved further into her fastidious and laborious process. Growing up with the influence of her father’s printing factory, McKay gained an unrealised education in colour and pattern, key building blocks in elevating her talent for symmetry, precision and exactness. The hypnotic quality stems from these elements – no colour or seed is chosen without considerable thought, rather, each gives support and harmony to the next. McKay moves across mediums with ease, giving sculptural texture and an elusive 3D quality to her photographed installation pieces. Shadows, colour and pattern keep the viewer in a continuous cycle of awareness.


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Left to Right: ‘Seed Extinction,’ ‘Seed Growth,”Seed Life,’ photographic prints (2019)


This year, McKay was invited to exhibit in the core artistic program at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale 2019, Australia’s leading contemporary photographic biennale. Her exhibition, “The Blind Radius II” focused on war themed children’s plastic toys and the environmental impact the mass proliferation of these figurines caused. McKay has also been twice exhibited in Sydney Contemporary Art Fair in the past two years, and has had two previous solo shows at .M Contemporary. Her exhibition, “Blind Radius II” will also be on show at the Shoalhaven Regional Gallery 12 October – 7 December 2019.

Sally McKay’s Seed the Change is on exhibition at .M Contemporary, Woollahra from Wednesday, October 19th until Saturday, November 9.

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Seed The Change; an exhibition by Sally McKay

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