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In Conversation: Cricket Saleh

We’ve all experienced a change of pace or a shift in perspective over these past few months. If anything, it’s allowed ideas that may have been sitting just below the surface to finally breakthrough.

Thanks to a deep cleanse of her office, this rings true for photographer Cricket Saleh. Sifting through work from decades ago, rediscovering archived photos and reprinting unsold editions has been something of a release. 

And for us, this time has served as a reminder of how meaningful it is to share stories, and hear from the creatives whose work we support. With this, our In Conversation series has taken on a new life in our Artist Features; bite-sized hits of inspiration and escapism right here on our website! These will exist alongside our longstanding Artist in Focus series and exciting calendar of exhibitions.

For now, read on to get to know Cricket and delve into her world, if only for a moment.

Cricket studied photography at RMIT and although she never felt tied to this medium, she knew she would explore fine art through photography. Pictured: Cricket's studio in Newtown, Victoria.

When did you start working with photography and what is it that you love about this medium?

I finished my year 12 art portfolio with a strong focus on the photographic medium, then went to RMIT to study photography the year after. I wasn’t wedded to the photographic medium, I just new I wanted to be a fine artist, and that I would explore it through photography.

My father was a commercial photographer for 30 years, so I grew up between the darkroom and the photographic studio. I had no intention of working commercially when finishing my degree. Upon entering a post uni world, however, I quickly found that a commercial practice was not the death knell of an artistic practice, and it instead opened my world up to other ways of seeing, and fed the artwork enormously.

Photography is intwined in Cricket's upbringing; her father was a commercial photographer for 30 years so she grew up between the darkroom and photographic studio.
Upon entering a post uni world I quickly found that a commercial practice was not the death knell of an artistic practice, and it instead opened my world up to other ways of seeing, and fed the artwork enormously.”
— Cricket Saleh

You shoot an impressive array of different subjects – from fashion and interiors to still life. When you are approached by a brand to develop ‘a visual language’ for a particular concept, how do you begin and what’s involved in your process as an art director and photographer?

I am deeply interested in humanity. Commercially, I found it impossible to specialise in the fashion or the interior space. I believe the same eye can respond to both. My role is to create a visual landscape for the brand to exist in. To work with the client to understand the intentions of the brand, so I can communicate this to their audience. I find this joyous.

The commercial space also allows me to work with teams, where the talents of many are brought together to articulate a story. To me, my relationships with these creatives, where all of our view points come together through the lens of the brand, is hugely rewarding. I could never exist in the commercial space without these relationships.

She had no desire to work commercially however after finishing her degree she realised that a commercial practice and artistic practice could not only coexist, but feed each other.

We were thrilled to exhibit your still life photographic works ‘Meaningless Nothingness’ and ‘The Division of Consciousness’ in our group exhibition ‘Ritual Practice’ in 2019. Can you tell us a bit about this particular series?

It was so wonderful have my work accepted for the group exhibition ‘Ritual Practice’. The two pieces were part of a larger body of work I had completed titled ‘Howl’. The body of work had me looking away from the world, and finding an internal space. The work needed to feel slightly detached from the real world, and have surrealist elements, that were heavily symbolic.

My work for the past decade speaks of human consumption. These two pieces and the body of work they came from, are so heavily pared back; each element is celebrated, each fold is there to be considered, as if in response to a world so full of stuff.

Through the Covid-19 lockdown, I have experienced both extreme joyfulness at home with my loves, and deep concern for a world losing its humanity.”
— Cricket Saleh
Cricket exhibited two works in Modern Times' 2019 group exhibition 'Ritual Practice'. Pictured is one of the works, 'Meaningless Nothingless'.
The two pieces were part of a larger body of work titled ‘Howl’ which had Cricket "looking away from the world, and finding an internal space".

We love your positive outlook on life, so we’re wondering, how have you found life in isolation during Covid-19 and do you have any hopes for our world once restrictions ease?

Through the Covid-19 lockdown, I have experienced both extreme joyfulness at home with my loves, and deep concern for a world losing its humanity. I found one release (thanks to an intense cleanse of my office) was sifting through my work from decades ago. I went all the way back to my 3rd year work and my honours work, found archived prints from earlier exhibitions, and worked with Thirds Printing to re print unsold editions.

The next thing will be getting stuck in to a new body of work, and making space for an exciting project that is begging me for more time. More family and friends, more cooking, more reading, more conversation. Isolation highlighted for many of us what we already knew, but buried – the need for time for these seemingly simple things.

When working with brands, Cricket finds a lot of joy in creating "a visual landscape for the brand to exist in" and working "with the client to understand the intentions of the brand and communicate it to their audience".
So what's next? There's a new project on the go alongside more cooking, reading and conversation. Cricket says "isolation highlighted for many of us what we already knew, but buried - the need for time for these seemingly simple things."

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