“My practice has become a series of explorations in time and space where light has become a material to be worked with and is an integral part of the more haptic manifestations.”
This week we will show you Sarah Sepe in her studio. Her work is a beautiful and an inspirational take on traditional textile techniques. She ‘knits’ with drawn line, with paper yarn, with wire and in doing so she draws our attention to the light and space within.
“On the surface, knitting is ostensibly an ordinary activity associated with the domestic sphere ….yet because knitting is so firmly associated within popular culture through its iconology and iconography, it is an ideal genre to exploit, manipulate and challenge’ (Turney, 2009, p80)”
Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?
I remember Art as being very prescribed, we were told what to do or make. I don’t remember particularly enjoying it. I have much more positive memories of the dressmaking class, however I dropped both subjects when choosing O’levels.
I did a lot of drawing/painting at home and spent hours making clothes for Barbie dolls out of scraps of materials. That always felt different, I was exploring and creating for myself.
What would your school report have said about your art?
B+, Sarah tries hard but……….
Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?
I started Adult Ed classes at Northbrook in Experimental Textiles in 2000 after discovering Textile Art at Davison – both my daughters did GCSE in Textiles. I then went on to do a Foundation course in Art & Design followed by BA in Surface & Textile Design, both at Northbrook. After that I completed a MA Fine Art at Chichester. Ultimately I think the formal education gave me a chance to find my own practice and ways of working.
What or who has inspired you over the years?
Life generally, family, countless trips to Italy over the years,
What Artists do you admire?
I’ve just picked out a few and for different reasons; Gego, Eva Hesse, Rachel Whiteread, Anselm Kieffer, El Anatsui…….the list goes on
What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?
Mine – my head is always focussed on the next piece so that’s a tricky question, probably a long drawing on Mylar that I did as part of my MA – about 15m long a simple line drawing called Palimpsest. It started off a new way of working that I’m still exploring.
Someone else’s- I love ‘The Virgin at Prayer’ Sassoferrato in the National Gallery – the quiet stillness the picture evokes.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved?
Just being happy with the way I am working now is a major achievement. I’m really proud to have been part of the Artists Open Shop (and all the spin offs from that project still buzzing in the town) and being part of the group setting up Worthing Art Studios of course.
What have you sacrificed for your art?
Nothing important – it’s been a means of finding a way of living that works for me and for my family. It feels so positive most of the time.
What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?
To focus my energy at what makes me happy
What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?
Be true to yourself, enjoy your work and keep learning!
How do you start a piece of work?
I make marks continuously, in and out of sketchbooks with pens, pencils, threads…… Every so often something happens and I am inspired to take an idea further. The catalyst may be the size and shape of a piece of MDF to use as a blackboard (big thank you to Wenban Smith’s offcuts bin) and an idea fermenting from one or more of the small pieces I’ve made. It always feels like a coming together of various ideas and thoughts – pieces of work find their own time to be made.
When is it finished?
When I can’t think what else I can do to improve it, I hang it up in my studio or at home and live with it – it’s totally instinctive.
Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?
‘Active flux and Mathematical Fixity’- a quote from writing about Gego’s work- this looks quite weird written down here but it’s where my head is with my own work at the moment.
Does music help with your creativity? If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?
Whilst I tend to have the radio on (Radio 2) to block out the rest of the world; I don’t actively listen to music. When drawing I often listen to talks – often TED talks – I find that concentrating on the spoken word helps the drawings to flow and to find their own space.
What is your favourite medium to work with/in?
Materials I use are quite limited – paper, paper yarn, black ink, white ink, black wire, fishing wire, Mylar (transparent polyester film), aluminium wire, aluminium etching plates. Not much more than that. It has to feel right.
Do you have a lucky or favourite something that you use that has been with you forever?
Not really, although I have kept a ‘lucky pine cone’ on my mantelpiece that my son put there about 15 years ago and I would hate to lose.
Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?
I’m just happy with my own practice, seeing where it leads me.
Is there anything you avoid with your art?
I think the big elephant in the room with me is Painting – I don’t do it, anything else goes. But I have now discovered paint marker pens so maybe, just maybe……..
Absolutely fascinating Sarah, a real pleasure to visit, chat and photograph you, thank you very much.
To see more of Sarah’s incredible work visit the links below….