Sophie Gralton

Thoughts Of The Past Seen

January 18 - February 1 2020

Sydney-based Sophie Gralton's new body of work aims to evoke a sense of integration between the past and the present and promote an awareness of the ever-evolving process towards individuation. Her signature imagery of an ‘isolated' child is largely self-referential but intends a universal relevance. Gralton recounts that the initial inspiration for her oeuvre arose during a trip to Paris in 2007. There she became intrigued with Dutch 17th century portraits of children which were rendered as mini-adults and had hidden layers of meaning encoded in certain symbols and gestures.

However, Gralton stresses that the focus of her art-making lies in the quality of interaction between medium and meaning. Gralton wants the viewer to respond not solely to the subject matter but also the aesthetic and emotive signals the paintings communicate. Visual accuracy is not a primary concern, it is the seduction of tactile surfaces and the relationship she has with paint: 'the excitement of the mark, the loss and gains encountered when creating a new work is my impetus.' Her direct brushwork technique elicits form against richly patterned, multi-media backdrops. Stencilled numerals float atop vintage storybook pages and areas of appliqued manila tags. Figure and ground vacillate in a fusion of concealment and revelation.

Although Gralton's works are based on the poses of actual children, they are not conventional portraits. She explains that the cropping of eyes from the figures was not just a means of disguising the subject's identity. In most portraiture it is the gaze we tend to rely on to gain understanding of the sitter's essence. Gralton instead ushers the viewer into a different kind of reading of the subject - one where nuance is captured in the theatricality of the pose, the inclusion of creatures that seemingly mirror personae, and importantly, the vitality of brush markings.

Eschewing any notion of sentimentality, Gralton hopes that the viewer will resonate with the scenarios depicted and perchance recall one's own childhood experiences of a time interlaced with fantasy and limitless curiosity. Such recollection may rekindle the imaginative potentials so often curtailed by the ‘daily grind' and adulthood's responsibilities.


Raised in country Victoria, Sophie Gralton has lived in Sydney since her art school days. She has a Degree Conversion Course (Painting major), NAS, Sydney 2000; Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts (Painting major), NAS, Sydney 1994; Certificate of Fine Arts (Printmaking), NAS, Sydney, 1990 and BA Fashion/Textile Design, Sydney College of the Art 1985. A veteran of an extraordinary number of solo exhibitions, Gralton has been a Finalist in the Fisher's Ghost Art Prize, the Portia Geach Memorial Award, the NSW Travelling Art Scholarship and State Finalist, Australian & Commonwealth Bank Art Awards, Sydney. She was Artist in Residence, The Art Vault, Mildura NSW 2015, 2012, 2010 and undertook a Printmaking Residency, Skopelos Foundation, Greece (with master printmaker Basil Hall) 2012.


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