Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1942

Identification crisis c.1980 Description: Identification crisis - in three pieces
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: ceramics, ceramics stoneware, glazed stoneware

Dimensions: overall 32.5 h x 63.0 w x 55.0 d cm a) 32.0 h x 50.0 w x 40.0 d cm b) 28.8 h x 36.0 w x 30.0 d cm c) 32.5 h x 30.0 w x 11.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of the Philip Morris Arts Grant 1982.
Accession No: NGA 83.2850
  • Identification crisis reveals Sandra Taylor’s acerbic wit coupled with an underlying seriousness. She said of this piece: ‘It has the biting edge that separated it from the zany, humorous, lyrical qualities of previous works … it was a very personal story disguised as social commentary.’1

    Taylor was attracted to American funk ceramics of the mid-1970s. After she graduated from the now National Art School at Sydney, she produced domestic ware and more specialised pieces. Once she realised that the more individual pieces sold more quickly, even though they were more expensive, she gave up making domestic ware.

    Identification crisis evokes a theatrical stage set, with three different settings for her domesticated animals. The sides of these pieces gave her many options, such as covering the walls and having the palm trees visible behind them.

    Through her sculptural ceramic works, Taylor lays bare the frailties and foibles of our everyday lives and tries to make sense of them. Her early work, such as Identification crisis, uses animals as metaphors for humans. In 1995, she began using human figures and her ideas, unfiltered through satire, are direct and therefore quite confronting.

    Taylor’s work may be read on two levels: it is fun and humorous, but it always looks at the more serious aspects of life. She believes that ultimately nature is the great leveller.

    Meredith Hinchliffe 2002.

    1 Sandra Taylor, quoted in Grace Cochrane, The Crafts Movement in Australia: A history, Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 1992, plate 12.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002