Textile Study Group

artists and tutors sharing ideas imagination and skills

Sarah Burgess

Artist statement

"I work in order not to sleep walk through my life” Zadie Smith (Radio4)"

My work helps me to stop, pay attention to life and the world, to reinforce my sense of enquiry, unease, wonder and determination to do something – to leave a mark.

It often feels important to comment on some of the powerful issues facing us; finding a visual language to communicate and explore, provoke and subtly draw attention. Working with a theme of sea level rise due to the climate crisis my work was literally drowned in dye during the DIS/rupt exhibition with the idea that it would change unpredictably; the acceptance of risk being fundamental physical and conceptual elements of the piece.

Fragility and resilience recur; subjects which appear delicate or damaged but endure against the odds; plant tendrils, safety pins and first aid kits, ceramic shards washed out of an old refuse tip, aspects of stroke and dementia with loss of language. Text may also appear, both readable and unreadable.

I use print on paper and fabric to add unpredicatability to my work, unexpected print marks stimulate a response, triggering an idea. I often work with layers of semi-transparent materials to build complex partly hidden layers. Stitch is often used to define, to draw with a different quality of line, emphasise, bind and build dense thickets of layered marks.

I find man-made detritus particularly powerful and moving - something about loss, the traces we leave show evidence of time and place. Household items lost in cliffs crumbling away due to rising sea levels are collected and carefully excavated.

Mentoring and teaching are a powerful stimulus to my own creativity. It is very special to be given an insight into the work, thinking and practice of other creative people and I find our conversations and exchange of ideas fascinating and rewarding.


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