Ricky Swallow is best-known for sculptural works, which initially took the form of models, and later intricately carved wooden sculptures, combining contemporary imagery with the traditional notion of nature morte. His current bronze works extend this practice while reflecting the more recent influences of 20th century design, studio ceramics and the inventiveness of folk art. This interest is informed by the time the artist spends in flea markets in his home city of Los Angeles encountering make-dos. These are antiques which have been ‘creatively repaired or adapted – given an extended life rather than being discarded’. He is also interested in other forms of folk art, stating that the ‘economy of labour and materials toward something that’s a translation of a traditional object, a replacement of its former self, is something I love’. Swallow has also consistently maintained a watercolour practice throughout his career as an artist.
Ricky Swallow was born in San Remo, Victoria in 1974. He undertook a Bachelor of Fine Art majoring in Drawing at the Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne from 1994 to 1996. In 2005 he represented Australia at the Venice Biennale with the exhibition This Time Another Year. In 2009-10, The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria exhibited recent sculptures and watercolours by the artist in the exhibition Ricky Swallow: The Bricoleur.
Swallow’s work is regularly included in solo and group exhibitions internationally. His work is held in many significant public and private collections in Australia and internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley; the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.