Valerie Sparks | Sanctuary

“Sanctuary provides the over-arching concept for this body of work. It refers to both the idea of a sanctuary as a space for us to dwell in, as well as the spaces people create to provide safety and protection for plants.” Valerie Sparks, 2023.

The immersive Floral wallpaper installation Sanctuary Series 3 by Valerie Sparks resonates with the beauty and intricate details of native flowers blooming in a dark garden against a background of moody skies. We are transported into an expansive and theatrical environment that celebrates the power and remarkable beauty of Australian flora. Populated with radiant images of Red Flowering Gums, Pink Proteas, White Waratah, Magnolia Grandiflora and other native plants, the Sanctuary 3 series blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality.

This powerful series of inkjet prints invites a closer inspection of the colour, texture and luminescent leaves and petals of native plants. Imbued with notions of healing and protection for plants, the series provides a sanctuary in which to explore the relationship between nature and humans.

The work pays homage to the achievements of 19th and 20th -century women botanical artists including Margaret Anderson Hope, Ellis Rowan, Mariane North, and Louisa Anne Meredith and their contribution to our understanding of biodiversity and the natural world.

Valerie Sparks is a celebrated photo media artist whose practice is informed by the aesthetics of immersive environments and history, and a specific interest in 18th-century French scenic wallpapers, frescoes, and contemporary 3D light-based installations.

The artist has exhibited widely in public and private Galleries and Museums in Australia and overseas and is represented in public museum collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, and Artbank. She has undertaken many international residencies and awards including the Australia Council London Residency, the French Embassy, Cite International des Arts Studio in Paris, the City of Port Phillip Rupert Bunny Award, Australia Council New Work funding and Arts Victoria International Program funding.

Sparks was awarded the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize in 2016, the St Kevin’s Art Show prize for works on paper in 2019 and has been a finalist in the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award, the Fremantle Print Award and the Hutchins Art Prize. She has a Masters of Fine Art from Monash University, a Bachelor of Arts (with a double major in Anthropology and Pacific Studies, Honours in Anthropology) and a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Drawing.