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Alumni in the ANU Art Collection: Sally O’Callaghan

Alumni in the ANU Art Collection series

The Art Collection fills an important role of enriching the creative, cultural and intellectual lives of students and staff on the ANU campus. First established in 1949, it comprises over 2900 paintings, drawings, sculptures, limited editions prints and photographs, ceramics and glass objects by significant artists.

Alumni students and staff from the ANU School of Art and Design (previously Canberra School of Art and ANU School of Art) are numerously represented in the collection through purchases, generous donations by artists and patrons and through the School of Art and Design’s Emerging Artists Support Scheme. In this series of posts we introduce a selection of alumni artists and their works in the collection, and give a brief insight into their lives and art practices.

Sally O’Callaghan Graduated from the ANU School of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Visual Arts majoring in Painting (Honours) in 2015.

We invited Sally to provide some insight into her works in the collection, her experience of studying at the ANU and a little about her creative life since graduating:

Café was the first work I produced in a series I now refer to as my Yellow Series. For these works, somewhat like a Bowerbird, I had brought together many things I had been interested in during my degree and collapsed them together. Collage, Cubism, figure work and animation were being referenced as conceptually I was exploring themes around time, space and the everyday. It was also a beginning of a new love of Acrylic paint. A medium that allowed me to explore opaque, transparencies, colour theory and alternate material such as sponges and finger painting in my application. Café and Café 2 that followed shortly after showed a minute time period I had spent filming in a café and condensed this timeline. I am very fond of this period as I still explore all these themes today but sometimes think there was an uncontrolled element at the beginning, when I was less sure of what I was doing, that I am still trying to recreate now.

I completed my Honours year in painting at ANU School of Art in 2015. Since my graduation I have been invited back a couple of times for artist talks, studio visits and was invited to exhibit in an exhibition at the Drill Hall Gallery Painting Amongst Other Things’. Last year I was asked to be a teaching assistant for a couple of painting classes Composition and Space and Materiality and Meaning. It was a great experience being back in the classroom sharing with students. It was the first time in my life, being early career, that I felt I had something to offer in terms of skill and knowledge. It was also great taking time with my previous lectures Elisa Crossing and Raquel Ormella to get advice and encouragement and talk practise again.

Just recently I completed a commission that was a career highlight. I have had commissions before, but this was the first time in which I have been invited, in a domestic setting to produce an installation. It was great to see my work in a smaller space in which there were some architectural obstacles and a more intimate setting. I have done a couple of commissions before, but this is the first time in which a client wanted a full install. No size alterations and complete with a permanent wall drawing.

For more information on Sally O’Callaghan please see her website:

Instagram: @sally_ocallaghan 

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.