Sally Richardson

“You have to really want it – it’s not just a job; it’s who you are” says director and writer Sally Richardson  in her interview with Rachel Power for her book The Divided Heart. For Sally, her relationship with art and motherhood has become more integrated now that her children are slightly older and able to share the journey by her side.  Here she tells the MAN her experience now, nearly four years on:


Photo: Standing Bird Dancer: Paea Leach
A dance/theatre/film solo about woman’s journey from shipwreck to bird, Standing Bird premieres at Fringeworld PICA 7 – 12 February, 2012 and features performer Jacqui Claus
My response from The Divided Heart interview to now….
I am now more at ease as a Mother and artist, as I can share so much more of what I do with them. They come to performances (of all kinds), sit in on showings and rehearsals. They will come in and chat when I am working on the laptop, I show them images and videos and gauge their interest and opinions…they make a great first audience..I really love watching their responses to what they see, and also hearing their thoughts, and ideas. They now understand and are interested in what I am doing, and we also share their creative journeying as they express themselves through dance, music, and art.
It is more of an ongoing conversation, and for my family a way of life. They are proud of what I do and share the trills and spills, as we get grants, or not, great reviews (or not!), and so on. We might get to travel or do something special if we get a grant or a royalty for example, and I have actively sought to involve them in this way so we collectively experience the highs and the lows!! They are older, more capable, and understanding when I travel and are required to be away making a show (up to six weeks) I have for the most part avoided missing the really important events they have (sometimes by the skin of my teeth making it from airport to school assembly).
Now I am enjoying their own creative journey’s – My eldest son Thomas a stylist and make up artist based in London (he recently did Florence and the Machine’s new album cover and videos) and my 14 year old son Yvan (a contemporary dance student at John Curtin College of the Arts) went on tour for the first time this year with Steps Youth Dance Company on the regional tour of Phoenix.
Bravery is… the amount of courage one can show
Imagination is …thinking about surreal ideas
Generosity is...the amount of love given to anybody than yourself
Yvan, age 14
Sally and 2 of her boys, Yvan and Niklas.
Bravery is...people who over come their fears
Imagination inside your head giving (a lot)
Nik, age 12
Excerpts from The Divided Heart interview: 
It’s a very fickle business with no sense of entitlement  or clear career trajectory. One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re down. I know it sounds like a bit of a dramatic cliché in itself, but it is like that. It’s a pretty tricky life in which to sustain a family unit. 
In the arts there can be a lot of pretension, so you develop a bit more toughness (as a mother). Also it helps with taking the knocks that inevitably come when you don’t that grant for the third time. You don’t give up. I think, energetically, for me that’s come from that experience of being a mother. There’s a degree to which I can accept the criticism and judgement of others.


For some the theatre is the be all and end all. My family has disallowed that obsession – all they care about is that you give them a big hug and then get down on the floor and muck in. That’s really important. It’s also meant I’ve been prepared to take risks, and you realize that it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t work out.

I think it has been a necessity to maintain my practice while being a mother – it just means I’ve learnt to be diverse.” 

Standing Bird development featuring performer Paea Leach.
Bravery is… making a beginning
Imagination is… letting go
Generosity is…really listening
Sally, age 45
Thank you so much to Sally for her generosity of response and to Rachel Power for allowing us to publish parts of the original interview and supporting this BIG MAN. You can watch a beautiful showcase of Sally’s work here.
 MAN is a fortnightly blog series that looks at the potential and challenge of art and motherhood through featuring the work, conversation and responses of Australian and international mother artists. 
If you would like to contribute to MAN please email us at [email protected]