This week I went to visit the studio of an artist whose work I'm curating in a solo show next year, details of which are still under wraps so I'd better not spill premature beans. Hopefully it's safe to mention that Sarah's studio is in the well know artistic hub of Crawley. Not having the first clue where Crawley is I imagined it was going to take me the best part of a day to get there, but Google Maps informed me its not so far past Cobham. So, I thought best thing in terms of time management and my latest quest to make myself a 'highly effective person' was to go after my riding lesson. All very efficient and satisfactory, but it did mean I had to walk round Crawley in riding jodhpurs, knee high black leather boots and an ageing baseball cap concealing stuck to the forehead sweaty riding helmet hair which was a bit self conscious making. Ms Maple though generously pretended not to notice.
Sarah Maple is a feminist artist. Only problem is no-one really knows what that means because nobody knows what a feminist is. No-one knows what an artist is either for that matter, or rather everybody does and nobody agrees. So to say someone is a feminist artist is just to append to them and their work a selection of letters that serve to create various impressions in various minds many of which will be at odds with whatever may or may not have been the intended impression.
The other way of doing it is to state what a feminist is not:
So that's cleared that up. Excellent.
Sarah's work uses humour to discuss sensitive subjects. The one thing we're never supposed to mention in polite society is the elephant in the room. But, like all artists of significance, Sarah doesn't allow herself to be limited by social niceties, that ugly, desperate, and largely successful attempt to control, shape and manipulate. Rather she just says it like she sees it.
Not everybody enjoys the joke. Consequently her 2008 solo show attracted some fairly robust criticism (click here, and don't miss the staggeringly eloquent Suad al-Attar. Good old Auntie scoured the globe twice over to come up with an art historical expert of that calibre. Thank goodness for the TV licence, hey.)
Luckily Sarah hasn't let that put her off. Rather she's spent the last two years creating an entirely new but equally uncompromising body of work for the forthcoming show. I can't wait. It's gonna be a cracker.
Sarah's work is currently forming the inaugural exhibition at Inception Gallery, Paris, in a show entitled Sarah Maple est Croque Madame.