Hey Sara, thank you very much for sharing your work with me so that I can get to know more about you and what you create. Can you start by telling me a bit about your background, specifically your journey from fashion designer to visual artist?
I studied fashion at Saint Martins in the 90’s. It was a brilliantly creative time and enjoyed segueing into running a fashion brand at that particular moment of crazy. But at a certain points the industry changed (as all must) and I fell out of love with it. A central part of my dissatisfaction was the chasm I felt was opening between myself and making. I have always been someone with a deep love of craft and practical making. I has always loved working with textiles, pattern cutting, the actual making of clothes and as the business became bigger and bigger I found myself terribly far away from those things I had loved about it originally. Instead, I found myself working with increasingly larger groups of people, complex supply chains and as far form the physical act of making as could be.
At first I think I saw painting as something that was a total antidote. I could do it alone (big upside), I would be dependant on only myself to make work (slight naivety) and finally that I had always enjoyed my ability to paint and had returned to it as a source of comfort throughout my life. I started painting at home but soon created a mini studio in the corner of what was then our fashion production HQ. The team were very tolerant of me as I busied myself behind rails of clothing covered in plastic but I realised that I was increasingly seeing it as the only thing I wanted to do.
It was a ridiculous, crazy thing to do but I just wanted to do it. I applied for the Masters program at Slade and somehow got in. The oddest thing about that period for me is my doggedness and pushing my background in fashion and textiles away from my work during my masters. I think it just felt too close or raw. In the years since I have felt much more excited about mining that connection and understanding the things that underpin and inspire my work.
I first saw your paintings in 2016 at a group show at Gallery 46 titled ‘topophobophilia’, tell me more about the themes of the paintings you were creating during this time.
This was a very transitional time for me. Having come from my particular background I had no prior experience of running a practice out of the masters program. Looking back on it I was fairly uncertain and just getting to grips with how to work. I have a real issue with saying that a particular work might pertain to a particular thing as I have never yet known what I was doing whilst actually doing it, but I can see that the works made at this time and for this show were about finding my feet.
Newer works shown at VO Curations in London this year show a different direction. Do these new and more abstract looking works have any relation to the paintings that you created earlier? And can you tell me more about what the new works are about.
The VO show was great. It was the first time I have shown my textile based works alone without my paintings and I was really happy with it. These pieces are made form lint taken from industrial dryers and are the result of a few years of investigating this work. There are clear connections to the body as well as examining commerce and manufacturing. It is also a very clear nod to the import of textiles in my work. I increasingly combine textiles within paintings either as support or compositional component and have worked with knitting and weaving over the years. I don’t feel this is an abstraction in terms of my practice-for me this is a very natural combination.
In regard to producing art, what’s the most memorable piece of advice that has been given to you?
It is mainly a matter of intentionality.
Follow Sara on Instagram @sarabermanartist