About

I was born in Sierra Leone, and grew up in numerous countries around the world including Australia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates and the Solomon Islands. My experience of these countries, their culture, mythologies and most importantly, their distinctive natural landscapes, continues to influence my artwork. In choosing colours, I often think back to the lush and bright jungles of the Solomons, where nature felt abundant and vivid. To capture my memories of these exotic places I use familiar items of kitsch design. These pieces, collected from charity shops, jumble sales or donated from friends, add the humour and warmth needed to bring these memories alive. They are everyday items of the last decade or so, but what makes them special for me is their new context. Important to my work is the act of enshrining. By taking a mass-produced, now discarded item, and building it into its new surroundings of LED lights and fabric, I add importance to the object. It is invested with new emotion, very different from the impersonal vacuum moulds in which it was first created. The process of enshrining allows me to concentrate on one emotion associated with the piece for a prolonged period of time, and in so doing the object becomes significant, both to me and to the artwork. As an assemblage artist, a large part of my time is spent selecting the right pieces. This is a process that can take between ten minutes and several months. From finding the first piece, I try to let a fluid process take place, allowing connections and relationships to form between fabrics and objects in my collection. It is a process that requires patience, but one that can prove highly rewarding. It was the shrines of medieval Christian relics that first drew me to the power of being able to freeze things in time. That a simple box, cut-off from the world, has the ability to transcend time so effectively deeply impressed me and it is this that I want to evoke in my own work. Through the process of enshrining I work towards transforming physical and emotional blocks in order to continue my own therapeutic process. I believe we are always trying to ‘let go’ of something; the enshrined artwork embodies both the acceptance of the paralysed state, and the release of it. Sarah Kelly