Advanced Certificate in Art and Design (1993)
Ricky Swallow was born in the Victorian seaside town of San Remo and began his artistic odyssey at Box Hill Institute in the early nineties. After completing a certificate in art and design he studied at the Victorian College of the Arts.
A slew of solo shows followed his graduation and, after a particularly successful showing at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, his Uncommon World collection was selected for display at the prestigious National Gallery of Australia in Canberra. Word spread globally of his art and soon his works were being displayed in London, Vienna, Venice, and Los Angeles.
According to Alex Baker, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Ricky’s art explores themes of life and death, time and its passing, mortality and immortality. In particular, he focuses upon the way memory is distilled within objects, reminding us of our deep, symbiotic relationship to everyday stuff.
Indeed, Ricky Swallow truly understands the allusive power of symbols. In his Bricoleur exhibition was a wooden backpack with folds sculpted to such delicate softness that the piece seems to have a weight removed from any tangible physical property. Skeletons hold hands in another work. This symbol of intimacy tragically cut short is cast using bronze which, ironically, will last forever.
In this age of computer-assisted, mathematically-perfected artwork, Ricky proudly opts for old-fashioned woodworking tools. However, it would be a mistake to pigeon-hole Swallow as ‘just another arrogant artist’. His Killing Time and Salad days exhibitions depict animals that his family either found or caught when he was young. The piece with the same name as the former exhibition depicts a bounty of fish and crustaceans spread across a table. Similarly, his Salad Days piece portrays a range of animals such as birds, a rabbit, mice, and also a fox skull.
To Ricky, these seemingly insignificant sights possess beauty equal to bright lights of Los Angeles. One day, after dropping a friend off at LAX airport he saw a postcard from his home town, San Remo. As he stared into his original home from his new homeland he realised that humans can call many places and things home, and that our definition of ‘home’ can change.
Ricky’s works are like the postcard. When viewed they not only dredge up emotions from our past, but through their form they also create new places, new feelings, and new homes within our minds. Box Hill Institute’s Whitehorse campus was once home to Ricky and we are proud to count him amongst our alumni.