Australian artist Sally Blake contemplates the intimate connections between humans and the natural world. Working in a wide range of mediums—including textiles, drawing, and sculpture—she calls her practice a “visualization of the natural laws and patterning that hold people in right relationship with Earth, as well as the consequences of these unravelings.” Some of her most striking pieces are those that she crafts from thin twines of copper wire. The mesh basket-like vessels mimic organic forms, originally inspired by a small skeletonized seed pod she was gifted after the death of her mother.
“It seemed to symbolize much of what I was experiencing and feeling—it was vulnerable and also resilient. It still gently held its seed, as a source of potential new life and inspiration,” Blake tells My Modern Met. “I started working with copper wire to emulate the fragility and resilience of the seedpod. Copper is very flexible, and I can use it to twist and coil into organic forms. By using fine wires, the works can look quite fragile, but the wire is strong enough to hold the open forms.”
Another of Blake’s wire sculptures mirrors the shape of human lungs. She titled this piece Commonwealth of Breath—a phrase coined by environmental philosopher David Abram to represent the atmosphere that connects humans with the rest of the planet. The intricately looped copper wire in her artwork silently echos this sentiment with its complex interwoven structure. “With every breath, in and out, we are relating to and connected with the other living creatures,” Blake explains. “Our inner worlds and outer worlds are linked. The looping technique used for creating the lungs creates an intermeshed surface, which is a metaphor for the interconnected nature of all living and non-living things.”
Her wire baskets are sometimes combined with woven threads, which she colors using natural eucalyptus dyes. Another large component of her practice, Blake has undertaken extensive research projects centered around the natural pigments derived from the evergreen plant. Her findings are documented in a detailed database, which is made freely available on her website.