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July 31, 2009

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Bold, buxom buccaneers hoist sail

WOMEN pirates swashbuckled their way across the seven seas, looting Asia and the Pacific, and two 19th century Aussie buccaneers may have inspired Sally Smart, an Australian collage artist.

Although, alas, most pirates were men and women were considered bad luck afloat, there where some bold lasses with cutlasses. Charlotte Badger and Catherine Hagerty stormed around Australia and New Zealand.

Smart's haunting take on female pirates is on view in her latest installation at the Oriental Vista Gallery.

There are ghost ships, skeletons, tattoos, and buccaneers fashioned of fabric, canvas, photos, paint, her own drawings and other materials.

"In starting out it was important to imagine what a female pirate might look like," says Smart, "so I made paper collage from magazine pages. It was a rudimentary and immediate way to imagine a woman pirate - tattoos, bad teeth, wooden legs, parrots and bare breasts."

She became interested in female artists in 2004 at the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery that housed a museum of boats from Oceania and Asia.

"I was fascinated by some of the boats, the sailors' scarification and tattoos, and various decorative and 'feminine' elements,'" Smart says.

"A ship is a symbol of power. Ships have a great resonance in Australian history, both as bringers of European immigrants and bringers of more recent refugees involved in human smuggling," she says. "Unlike land-based thieves, the fantastic space of the sea leaves much space for the imagination."

Some figures are based on models who posed in her studios.

The exhibition has traveled to New York and Belgium.

Date: through August 31, 10am-5pm

Address: 19C Shaoxing Rd

Tel: 5465-7768


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