In memory of Sandra Eterovic

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Written by Sonia Kretschmar

Sandra Eterovic photographed by David Patston

Photo by David Patston

Sandra Eterovic first came to the notice of Illustrators Australia in 2004 when she participated in the annual 9x5 exhibition at Books Illustrated in Albert Park. That year the theme was ‘Trash’, for which she did a charming diptych which, like a lot of her work, contrasted dark, wry observations underneath a seemingly sweet view of the world.

Trash, 2004

Sandra Eterovic, Trash, IA 9x5 2004

After a background in Art History, studying illustration at TAFE and working in the Fashion industry, Sandra had finally made the jump into freelance illustration, and exhibited at most IA exhibitions since – most recently in July 2018. Sandra’s work slowly crept into my world, but once it did it certainly had an impact. I particularly remember her hand painted plywood sculptures in the store at Tarrawarra c. 2011, and from then on her work kept surprising me at every turn.

Sandra Eterovic, Plywood head

Sandra Eterovic, Plywood head

She managed to combine folksiness, modernity, commentary and humour in such a unique way most people would describe it as “cool”, but really it also portrayed a great warmth. She would paint characters with small round heads and what looked like blow-up suits - rotund sailors with smoking pipes and jaunty scarves, European farmers with homeland trousers: they looked like lost balloons adrift in the world. Much like the celebrated artist Margaret Kilgallen, who also passed away at a tragically young age from cancer, Sandra’s work combined deft skills in painting, drawing, typography, design and wit. Her talents didn’t end there – she was also a keen knitter, sewing enthusiast and cook – a ‘domestic goddess’ with edge.

Sandra Eterovic, Yeah, No

Sandra Eterovic, Yeah, No

In recent years, Sandra’s work was gaining momentum and recognition, from various exhibitions in galleries such as Bus Projects and Craft Victoria, to catching the interest of the ‘Jealous Curator’ (AKA Canadian blogger/author/artist Danielle Krysa). Her work also graced many striking book covers and murals, and she was a keen participant in various artistic communities. It is particularly poignant to note the pride of her June 2018 announcement that she had “finally” got her website together. Her work had truly hit its stride and it was a joy to watch.

Sandra Eterovic, Kitty and Darth

Sandra Eterovic, Kitty and Darth

Although I was never lucky enough to spend a great deal of time with her, on a personal level Sandra and I formed a ‘mutual appreciation society’ of sorts, and happily I think I did manage to drunkenly declare my love and admiration to her on more than one fleeting occasion. Mutual shyness perhaps prevented us from deepening our friendship – after all, surely we’d have a lifetime of gallery openings to keep bumping into each other, wouldn’t we?

Sandra passed away at 4.10 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, November 18, 2018 after a short illness. A public memorial will take place at Fitzroy Town Hall on Monday November 26, 2018 at 2pm.