Friday, 5 April 2013

Speaking In Tongues, a solo exhibition by Sarah R. Key

In two weeks, AirSpace Gallery will unveil its latest exhibition, Speaking In Tongues, a solo show of paintings, in two parts by the 2011 Threadneedle Prize nominee, Sarah R. Key.

In The Sky is Falling In - themes of worlds within worlds, and a sense of anthropomorphism, create a sense of tension, not only within the form of the paintings, as constructs within constructs clash and slightly jar, to create an otherworldly artificial reality, but also within the content, as ideas of nature versus the man-made are prevalent.
Anything But Natural, 120x100cm, acrylic on canvas, 2012
 'The scenes presented here may be prophetic and dreamlike, depicting a sense of desire for that which is other. The characters within them may be preaching or warning us, hiding or hunting. Their activities and motives are unclear, their status and relationships unknown. 
To their predicaments we must bring our own ideas about the world that we inhabit. The only thing we can know is that their identities remain unfixed and their masked faces offer little but a shifting palette of shape and colour that often betrays little. Here, the eyes and mouths are the only points of access we might have to any sense of an emotional condition. They seem to be saying ‘I want to be somewhere else; I want to be something else’. - Sarah R. Key

The contrast in the second part of Speaking in Tongues, Bird Songs To My Father comes as we turn from the ethereal to the personal. In brand new work, Sarah has produced 23 depictions of birds, taken from a found list her father had made of birds he'd spotted whilst on a trip to Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, on the East Coast of England in 1976. 

        Meadow Pipet, 30x25cm, oil on canvas, 2012-2013

The objective approach taken by the method of actually painting the birds from the list has made the process of working with this subject more like a vessel through which to lament, quietly and from the safest of distances; time. The list, written in the back of my father’s bird book is his only remaining personally authored document, a snapshot of a longstanding preoccupation with something. There is specificity in this list that now seems to go beyond the day-to-day activity of simply spotting birds, having accumulated over time, for me, a kind of poetic status. - Sarah R. Key

Commissioned as part of Conjunction 12, Stoke-on-Trent's contemporary arts biennial, Speaking in Tongues marks a next step in Sarah's career.

The last 5 years has seen Sarah exhibit in Stockholm, Dresden and Seoul, in group and solo shows. In 2010, she was selected for the Royal Academy Summer Show, and the following year, had work selected for the prestigious Mostyn Open, and a nominee for the Threadneedle Prize for Painting and Sculpture.

See Sarah talking about her 2010 work , "THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF WARRENS AND OTHER HABITATS" from her solo show at the Tarpey Gallery, in July 2010.

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