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Interview: Jareh meets artist Sarah Doyle

When I recently came across Sarah Doyle's work I wanted to know more. A UK based artist her style is witty, interdisciplinary and eclectic. Encompassing an array of film, illustration and portraiture her work has been shown internationally and recent solo shows include 'The Nexus Treatment' at Space Station Sixty-Five Gallery and 'Celebrated Sobriquets' at The Surgery London.

She was the winner of the New Artist Category at The Elle Style Awards. She has contributed illustrations to Rubbish magazine & Arty. Her recent animation work and portraiture is currently on show at Transition Gallery, E8.

Q+ A with Sarah Doyle

Jareh: Your work is very versatile and encompasses drawing, sculpture, film, illustration, painting, elements of popular culture etc. How would you describe Sarah Doyle's work?
Sarah: I work in many different mediums. It depends on what I think is the most appropriate for the piece of work I am making.

Jareh: Purestarproducts?
Sarah: Purestarproducts is my webpage which I'm afraid is very old and desperately needs updating. There is an archive of some of my work on there, but for newer projects I would recommend going to my blog, until I get the chance to re-do the webpage.

Basically the name Purestarproducts came from a piece of work I made while I was studying. I made various products- chocolates, face cream, etc. The products were supposed to have properties in them that gave the user 'star quality'.

I made videos of people using the products and transforming by acting like a person they admire. So they gave their own interpretation of what star quality is.

I used the name Purestarproducts and it just stuck as the name of the website. However the webpage isn't an actual project it is really an archive of my work.

Jareh: Influences/Inspiration?
Sarah: My inspiration comes from many different sources. If there is a subject I'm interested in I will tend to read about it then the natural progression is to make work about it too. I make work about subjects that I can identify with or that I feel empathy with.

I thought about making a new list of influences and inspirations. Then it occurred to me that I already spent a good while compiling a list of things I like on MySpace. I thought that this would be an appropriate list to use as I have also made work inspired by MySpace. As well as having used MySpace as part of the work itself with my "Celebrated Sobriquets", here is a link to more info about this work:

Anyway I digress, you can find a list of interests on my MySpace page:


Jareh: Heroes?
Sarah: My family and friends. Jim Henson.

Jareh: I thought your paintings and a short animation of actresses playing other actresses in biopics for Too Much Is Not Enough was the best interpretation of 'Fame' in the show. What was your rationale behind the piece?
Sarah: The actresses in the series of work I am currently showing at Transition Gallery are playing the part of other actresses in biopics. Often the actresses in biopics are connected to the person they are playing in that they have been fans of them or admire them. Some of the actresses concerned have actually produced the biopics themselves they are so determined to play their heroines. Our relationships with celebrities in this sense is about playing and imagining we are the celebrity in question. Like playing at being a princess or a queen, as we would have as children. Also the biopic work is related to this and the cliché about all portraits being self-portraits, the actresses are making their own self-portraits in these biopics.

Jareh I also really identified with the animated piece and feel it was almost autobiographical?
Sarah: The animation shows the actress playing Audrey (Jennifer Love Hewitt) aping a dance from an Audrey Hepburn movie. She is spinning around and around in a sort of whirling dervish. I think the writing in this piece of work can relate to a lot of people in an autobiographical sense. The words on the animation are actually taken from the biopic 'The Audrey Hepburn Story'. All of the lines are written by the scriptwriter of the film and are what they imagined Audrey Hepburn might have said in her private life. I think a lot of biopics allow space in their scripts so that you can imagine yourself as the character being depicted.

Jareh: Favourite Star?
Sarah: It varies depending on what my interests are at the time. At the moment I am very interested in Frances Farmer as I've been reading about her life.

Jareh: Group exhibitions versus solo shows, as a lot of your shows tend to be collaborative/in a group environment?
Sarah: I enjoy both solo and group shows; they are both really interesting and push you and the way you work in different ways.

It's great to show your work in group shows, it really helps you look at your own work another way, seeing how your work stands up set alongside other peoples. Also there are some really brilliant curators who bring the work of artists together for group shows. Their vision and the choices they make when they conceive and put shows together can make you see the work in a different way and perhaps with fresh eyes too.

I think a solo show happens most often when you have a large body of work. I have had a couple of solo shows, and mainly it is because I have been approached to do them. It's extremely flattering and quite hard to say no to that. One of my recent solo shows was at The Surgery Gallery in London; they approached me to show in their space, so I made the work for this show specifically. I was also commissioned to make my piece 'The Nexus Treatment' by Space Station 65 gallery, which was also shown as a solo piece with them. It is quite absorbing and really fun to do this type of show, but I do feel that your practice as an artist should be varied by showing and collaborating with others or it could become quite insular and isolating.

Jareh: What do you think of the London Art Scene?
Sarah: The London art scene is really exciting and vibrant. There are a lot of people in London who will just go ahead and get on with projects. I see a lot of people who want something to happen so just get on with it and do it. Saying that though there are people all over the world who are doing this too. There is a bit of a worry with the London scene that it can be a little insular, and thinking that London is the centre of everything so there is no need to look outside. There is even this way of thinking inside London itself (people thinking everything creative is in the east end and not bothering to explore further a field for example). I think as long as you are looking outward and don't get trapped into this way of thinking you are OK.

Jareh: Future Shows?
Sarah: I have a forthcoming show: 'The Kiss of a Lifetime' at Rogue Project Space Manchester.

It is a show of artists prints curated by Mike Chavez Dawson and is themed around the kiss for Valentines Day. I am making a print based on the movie 'The Bad Seed', in which the lead character Patty McCormick is a young girl who is both a sociopath and a murderer. She uses kisses to manipulate and get what she wants from the adults in her life.

One of her creepy mantras in the movie is the sickingly sweet phrase 'What would you give me for a basket of kisses?'. This is also the title of my work for the kiss show. So if anyone wants to buy a limited edition print based on a creepy sociopath child the Bearspace is the place to come in February.

I also have some work in the forthcoming edition of Cathy Lomax's Arty magazine. This issue will be entitled 'Fame', and I will have more biopic related work in there.

'The Kiss of a Lifetime'
Rogue Project Space
14th - 28th Feb '09
100 Artists - 100 Kisses...

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