What made you study feminist art?
It wasn’t a conscious decision to ‘study’ a specific area of my practice. It has been more a case of ‘I am who I am’ and my work reflects my experiences, emotions and dreams. I am a female artist who responds in a visual way, to things that provoke a strong reaction.
How do you show feminism through your artwork?
Feminist ideas and statements come across in my work through the use of opposing elements placed together. When I think of who I am and in what world I try to operate, I feel as though I am two beings in one. A masculine, decisive, headstrong and competitive being versus a feminine, nurturing, soft and approachable one. I think this is an unfortunate result of trying to maintain a sense of femininity whilst simultaneously aiming for a high level of masculine performance.
Within my work this is portrayed through the juxtaposition of opposites in the way of materials – i.e. soft cotton against hard metal, or fleshy latex against stone or plaster. This is also achieved through the use of opposing forms i.e. sculptural voids or negative space against hard protrusions.
What is your favourite ‘form’ of art to work with? and why?
Sculpture/3D is the art form in which I can manipulate materials to fulfil the feelings mentioned above. The use of different materials such as soap, chocolate, plaster and feathers offers scope for experimentation and a sense of playfulness within my practice. As I am consciously trying to communicate a message within the work, the use of materials which already hold meanings or comment on experience or a specific societal norm only add to my work.
What are you most popular themes to discuss through your work?
On a very personal level, I try to address the theme of what is considered beautiful, the levels of perfection we try to obtain in reference to our physical appearance, who or what sets these ideals and how or why we try to live up to them. The danger this creates when considering an individual’s consumption of an image and the resulting ‘body beautiful’.
Which, from your large variety of pieces, is your most favoured? and why?
‘Consumer’ is a personal favourite to view. It is a combination of the minimal use of colour – only the eyes are full colour (and they are replicas of my own specifically commissioned) so there is strong eye contact with the work. The simplicity of the piece, wall mounted on its own hand as a plinth which simultaneously feeds and purges the system. It sums up for me a feeling of ‘I have had enough’ and ‘I just want all this out of my system’.
…and any other information about you or your work, you would like to pass on.
My artist statement:
Socio-cultural concerns about femininity and feminism, about the body, about individual control and consumption within a consumer society forms the inspiration for the creative of my work. My work is a way of exorcising something from myself, which is very emotional, maybe troubled. I become a subject who produces that which is visible. It is my silent, non-verbal response.
The artwork plays on traditional sculptural concerns, the process of adding or taking away. However, this is not only achieved using stone or wood but adding chocolate, soap, latex, wax, degradable or even edible materials, underlining the transient state of the body. I believe food is the medium through which we, particularly women are addressed and, in turn; food can become the language of women’s response. Obsessive and routine acts of measuring, producing and perfecting envelops both my creative process and the disciplined quest for an unattainable bodily perfection. Meanwhile, the works degrade as does the body. The final artworks attempt to present the seductive yet simultaneously repellent nature of human anatomy embodying ways of externalising a very internalised self-analysis of the body personal. The juxtaposition of hard against soft, of sensual against skeletal, of void against object, this is my visual language of a struggle within and of a body.
A review of ‘Followed’ from Michael Naimski Gallery
Chocol-art & Film Classics: it’s still life
Written by: Katherine Cleave
Date: November, 2003
Following her exhibition last month, Sarah Misselbrook looks set to move from strength to strength. Her work has a certain silence to it particularly evident in ‘Followed’; skeletal vertebrae morph into a pair of cupped hands as though waiting for absolution. This piece has a certain timeless quality as though we are viewing the evolution of our species from skeletal remains to moulded skin with all its vulnerability. The realisation that this piece is actually made from chocolate moulded onto stainless steel frame adds a touch of dry humour to a work that at first appears almost religious in tone. The smooth, pale chocolate echoes the marble statues of saints, and becomes particularly poignant from a female perspective when balanced with our less than saint like relationship with chocolate. In Sarah’s words, ‘There are a multiplicity of socio-cultural concerns about femininity and feminism; about the body, about individual control and consumption within a consumer society… Whether a morbid curiosity or a therapeutic exercise, this ‘body’ of work is an insight into myself.’