Whether it is a pasture of grass or the human form, sculptor and painter Sally Fairweather gets her inspiration from nature and her surroundings.

A country girl from birth, Sally Fairweather grew up in the Bauhinia Downs district in central western Queensland. About three years ago, she returned to her country roots at Fallow Field in the picturesque Pilton Valley.

“I grew up in the bush and had a very isolated childhood, but one thing about the bush is you always seem to want to go back,” she said. “However, as an artist, the bush can be very disconnecting.”

Eighteen months ago, Sally and her family moved into nearby Toowoomba to enhance her connections with other artists. Sally has been painting for 20 years, and has dabbled in life drawings, portraits and portrait sculpture — the move allowed her to share and collaborate while honing her own skills.

She has recently opened a new studio where she operates Teadust Ceramics, and now has a large workshop and gallery which is open to the public each Friday.

“Artists tend to become very solitary and that can stifle creativity so I’m trying to get more of a collaborative culture going amongst artists,” said Sally.

“I also offer workshops for groups of five or more people, where they can come along and have lunch and then create their own ceramic piece.”

Sally describes sculpting as a combination of science and art.

“There are thousands of different types of clay, and you have to use the right one. I’m a bit of a risk taker in my work, and I mix all my own glazes. I use paint, resin, graphite, wax and traditional glazes.”

Sally’s sculptures are in demand, and she has done several commissioned pieces for Brisbane clients, including a bust. “Making it is very easy — it’s getting it to the kiln without breaking it which is the hard part,” she said.

Starting out as a portrait painter, Sally lived in Maleny for 14 years and was inspired by the talented artists who resided there.

From Maleny, Sally and her husband, Paul, moved to the Pilton Valley, where they lived for six years, before moving again, this time to Rockhampton in 2011. After three and a half years, Sally and Paul returned, purchasing their 65 hectare lifestyle property.

Sally now focuses primarily on portrait sculpture, and she professes it has been a huge help to her portrait painting. She also dabbles in functional pieces such as bowls, plates and cups, as well as feature tiles and jewellery, but really “just to pay for the clay”. “Everything is made by hand, so each piece is an original, and I think that appeals to people,” she said.

Sally was invited to be the Artist in Residence at Toowoomba Grammar School in 2016, and together with students made a ceramic poppy for every Grammar old boy who died in World War I. Sally has had her work featured in exhibitions in Maleny, Rockhampton, Biloela and at the Downlands Art Exhibition in Toowoomba, as well as having some of her pieces for sale in this year’s Bush Christmas.

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