The works in A Place to Rest, Sarah Parker’s first solo show in Melbourne after more than 30 years of exhibiting, are a collection of pieces connected to the artist’s ongoing interest in exploring memory, imaginary landscapes and finding an expression for an idea of the feminine that’s true to both her experience, and to her desire to find a place of peaceful equanimity. The recurring motifs in her work – the female figure and face, trees, birds and horses, and landscapes and seascapes – combine and recombine across the paintings, creating a sense of reverie and reflection, quiet moments that are infused with a sense of the surreal that subtly elevates the work from the literal to a place of the imagination.
A longtime resident of seaside suburbs – and fascinated by historic houses and local museums, places abundant with accidental collisions of poetry and the mundane – Parker thoughtfully combines the familiar with a sense of magic. Parker is interested in feminine narratives, fables, mythology, symbols and stories from history, and images of what she calls “silent strength navigating new journeys and ways of seeing; fanciful, symbolic dreamlike comforts, a language documenting historical stories of places and landscapes visited and lived in.”
These stories and dreams are found in paintings that telescope down cosmic events of potentially rich, symbolic meaning into intimate encounters, while Parker’s imaginary portraits reverse the experience by enlarging something small beyond life size into a sculptural scale. Her sculptures beckon the viewer to regard them, figures that have moved out of the paintings and into the four-dimensional world, perhaps ready to take us back with them. Andrew Frost ~ 2018