Category Archives: Book Promotion

Book Review!

I’m very pleased to say we have our first review for This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age from independent reviewers, BlueInk Review. Another opportunity to review the book is coming soon from a-n through their Interface platform. Watch for that and maybe you can get a free copy of the book!

BlueInk Review

You can purchase This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age through our BOOKSHOP affiliated with The Book Depository, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. The book is also available by order through Waterstones and is coming soon to TATE Bookshop.

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This ‘Me’ of Mine at TATE

This 'Me' of Mine book What a thrill it is to write that title.

No, we won’t be exhibiting at the TATE, but the TATE bookshop has agreed to stock This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age in the New Year. I can think of no better ending for the project than that – well, okay it would be a better ending if we were offered space to exhibit at TATE, but I’m very content with the ending as it is.

Stay tuned, we’ll have images of the show from Ipswich, evaluations of the project, critical responses, and a book review by Blue Ink Review and more.

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Final Four Weeks of This ‘Me’ of Mine

Installation view, Art School Gallery, Photo: A. Borgerth

Left to Right: Bird (c)2011 Suzanne de Emmony, Echo (c)2011 Lisa Snook, Untitled Nude (c)2011 Shireen Qureshi Photo by: A. Borgerth

If you haven’t yet seen the expanded This ‘Me’ of Mine exhibition at Ipswich Art School with guest artists Molly Behagg, Edward Chell, Suzanne de Emmony, Kate Elliott, Andrew Litten, Gary Mansfield, Helen Scalway, Lisa Snook, Jacqueline Utley, and Kai-Oi Jay Yung – these are the final four weeks of the show. One kind visitor filled out our “What Do You Think” questionnaire recently and had this to say:

I was much impressed with the work and I think particularly as I saw it first-hand rather than after following from a distance.  The scale or intimacy and presence of the different works is significant I think.

The space/s at Ipswich lend [themselves] well to much of the work as many of the pieces gain a certain impact, in terms of proximity to the viewer; impressing a certain . . . relation between what is ‘depicted’ or present and how the viewer assimilates or receivers what is there.

The premise of the show is very well conveyed both in terms of the selected artists work and in the methods of display and situation within the space.

The Holiday Season is here, a perfect time for a short trip to see the lovely Victorian Ipswich Museum and the wonderful atrium space of the Art School Gallery. I overheard one person say This ‘Me’ of Mine was the best show they’ve seen in the gallery. Come see why.

And of course, This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age would make a great gift! The book showcases the full length interviews with artists, Anthony Boswell, Jane Boyer, Sandra Crisp, Annabel Dover, Hayley Harrison, Aly Helyer, Sarah Hervey, Cathy Lomax, David Minton, Kate Murdoch, Darren Nixon, Edd Pearman, Shireen Qureshi, David Riley and Melanie Titmuss, with essays by Paul O’Kane, Gen Doy, Becky Huff Hunter, David Houston Jones, Aiden Gregg, Catherine Horan and Jane Boyer. It also features a fairytale written for Annabel Dover by Carol Mavor!

The book is available from these online booksellers: Amazon, The Book Depository, and Barnes and Noble .

Hop to our BOOKSHOP to order direct.

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THE BOOK IS HERE!

screenshot of www.thismeofminebook.com

I’m so very pleased to announce the release of This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age, the companion book for This ‘Me’ of Mine. The book is more than an exhibition catalogue, it is an intricate view of self in relation to context and explores issues of memory, objects and identity, finding a voice and being an individual in the contemporary world. These last two topics are covered beautifully in essays by Gen Doy and Paul O’Kane, respectively. Gen Doy, author of Picturing the Self, writes beautifully about the significance of voice to identity in her essay, “Finding a Voice?”. “The Scene of the Self” by Paul O’Kane opens the book with sensitivity and a vast array of stimulating mental imagery. It is a beautifully crafted piece of writing and I am so honoured he wrote it especially for This ‘Me’ of Mine. All of the essays written for the book are unique, thoughtful and present a variety of views on the subject which creates a depth that can only be described as an “exhibition in book form”. I’m very proud to present them to you in this book. The heart and soul of the book are the artworks in the touring exhibition and full versions of artist interviews with: David Minton, Aly Helyer, David Riley, Anthony Boswell, Melanie Titmuss, Shireen Qureshi, Sarah Hervey, Kate Murdoch, Sandra Crisp, Annabel Dover, Edd Pearman, Cathy Lomax, Hayley Harrison, Darren Nixon and Jane Boyer.

You can purchase the book through Amazon.com . The book is also available through our BOOKSHOP affiliate, The Book Depository and at barnesandnoble.com.

(NOTE: the links to purchase or search for the book through Xlibris and http://www.thismeofminebook.com are currently not working due to an Xlibris system upgrade. I apologize for any inconvenience. Please make purchases through our BOOKSHOP or one of the other sites above.)

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Identity in the Digital Age

Whilst I Breathe, I Hope (c)2011 Edd PearmanIf you follow @thismeofmine on Twitter or Facebook you may have seen these recent tweets:

Archiving & narcissism contain Freudian death drive – a link with digital communications? We’ll discuss @ThisMeofMine ow.ly/pTQ9p

What would it be like if mobile phones became the only evocative object in our lives? @ThisMeofMine symposium ow.ly/pWe4V

Invention of alphabet brought us here. Now we’re forgetting how to write thxs to digital communication. @ThisMeofMine ow.ly/pYpWb

“Electronic circuitry is recreating in us…’primitive’ space orientation…a world of allatonceness @ThisMeofMine ow.ly/pZkwC

These are some of the things we’ll be discussing at the symposium, Identity in the Digital Age, 2nd November. Are we facing a shift from individual identity to ‘mass’ identity? If we are what does that signal for our future and our children’s future? We hope you’ll join us for a fascinating discussion. Tickets are on sale now at Eventbrite.


This 'Me' of Mine at Ipswich Art School Gallery. Photo: A. Borgerth

This ‘Me’ of Mine at Ipswich Art School Gallery. Photo: A. Borgerth

I’m hearing some positive reports from Ipswich. We’ve had 245 visitors just in the first 20 days of October and we’ve had some very nice comments like, “Nice variety of medium. Love the avatar interactive,” and “It’s nice to see people in paintings again”.  And I’m told lots of the local students from St. Mary’s school have enjoyed the exhibition too. It has been such a pleasure to develop some of the underlying themes by increasing the size of the show. Our interactive piece, Enigma, is popular too, it’s been wonderful watching people interact with it.

The unique space at Ipswich Art School with it’s ten galleries provided an opportunity to go from “telling stories” at Kaleidoscope Gallery to “writing chapters” at the Art School Gallery. Each of the galleries used for the exhibition, present a specific sub-theme to the main theme of This ‘Me’ of Mine, setting up ‘chapters’ in the story of This ‘Me’ of Mine. The unofficial favourite room, is what I call the ‘scary room’, it’s a room of interrupted childhood and gives me shivers every time I go in there. I’m looking forward to my return to Ipswich on 30th October.


This 'Me' of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age book cover, (c)2013 Jane Boyer

This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age book cover, (c)2013 Jane Boyer

And finally, the book, This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age, is FINISHED and is in the very final stages of production before going to press. Very soon, it will be available for online orders. Stay tuned and I’ll have more news shortly!

We’ll have examples of the hard cover and soft cover editions at the symposium. Can hardly wait to see them!

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Videos, Photos and Books

This 'Me' of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age book cover, (c)2013 Jane Boyer

This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age book cover, (c)2013 Jane Boyer

My return home to France has seen almost non-stop activity. I’ve been working on finalising the manuscript for This ‘Me’ of Mine: Self, Time & Context in the Digital Age, and trying to control a very errant and unruly index. Luckily, it’s all coming together and I hope to be finished soon. Xlibris will be publishing and promoting the book. Watch for more information coming soon on the book and details on ordering copies as well as booksellers where the book will be available. Here is a short excerpt from THE SCENE OF THE SELF by Paul O’Kane:

We are lost in a labyrinth of disputed realities, like Chuang Tzu the legendary Chinese philosopher who awoke dreaming he was a butterfly only to reflect that it was equally likely that he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.

We might argue that, rather than losing us in a labyrinth of deceits, images rescue us from the folly of maintaining an established notion of reality. Once we relativise images of various kinds (those drawn from without, those drawn from within) we can live more vigilant, critical lives, monitoring and measuring our particular, shifting relationship between our particular, shifting images.

Nevertheless, a certain type of pumped-up, hyped and mendacious image, serving a particular purpose, today dominates our environment, and, by its very dominance unbalances any wise relativism. What is this kind of image and precisely what is its purpose? (Let’s return to the labyrinth).

Video still from This 'Me' of Mine: 'Artists in Conversation' at Strange Cargo

Video still from This ‘Me’ of Mine: ‘Artists in Conversation’ at Strange Cargo

Video still from This 'Me' of Mine: 'Artists in Conversation' at Strange Cargo

Video still from This ‘Me’ of Mine: ‘Artists in Conversation’ at Strange Cargo

Video still from This 'Me' of Mine: 'Artists in Conversation' at Strange Cargo

Video still from This ‘Me’ of Mine: ‘Artists in Conversation’ at Strange Cargo

We have our first Artists in Conversation video! I’m so pleased to have Henrietta Thomas filming the talks and creating the videos, she is doing a great job.Henrietta is a freelance Filmmaker with a background in Art and Design and a 1st Class BA Hons degree in Broadcast Production. Her films often take a sideways look at the world, twisting and reinventing reality in unexpected ways. Most recently her short film, ‘Day Off’, was selected & screened by the ‘Bang! Film Festival 2012’ as part of ‘Crash Bang Wallop’. Another, ‘WIN WIN’, was screened at ‘The Raindance Film Festival 2011′.View Henrietta’s work at: http://vimeo.com/user2022197http://bit.ly/M7KLScYou can see This ‘Me’ of Mine: ‘Artists in Conversation’ at Strange Cargo, Folkestone on the Strange Cargo page under VENUES in the navigation menu  or by clicking the link above. By the way, you can see the Left-Handed Bricklayer in the video as he made his way into the gallery and became part of the fabric of This ‘Me’ of Mine.
This 'Me of Mine at Strange Cargo, installation view 5. Photo Credit: A. Borgerth

This ‘Me of Mine at Strange Cargo, installation view 5. Photo Credit: A. Borgerth

Arnold Borgerth has been photographing This ‘Me’ of Mine in all the venues and providing us with beautiful archive images. He also photographed all the work for the book, no easy task as he had to do it in situe in Folkestone at Georges House Gallery. You can see his work and the growing archive of This ‘Me’ of Mine images on the APT Gallery and Strange Cargo pages under VENUES on the navigation menu or click the links above.  www.arnoldborgerth.com

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Family Romances

British & Foreign Beetles ©2004 Annabel Dover

British & Foreign Beetles, ©2004 Annabel Dover, watercolour

‘Scientific observation and tender girlish enthusiasm’ is a curious mix of what seems to be diametrically opposed concepts and practices, but this description by Annabel of her own work is absolutely spot on. Not only does this describe her work but it also suggests there may be another way of approaching observation which includes fascination, delicacy and empathy; a gentle approach to observing the world which allows tenderness to remain, and to remain on equal footing with hard fact. Her works are as delicate as antique Venetian blown glass, and as fragile. Once in her gaze, the objects she works with are given to a relentless and crushing scrutiny; any individual subjected to this kind of probing would soon buckle under the intensity. Innately understanding this, Annabel satisfies herself with observing their objects; a kinder, gentler proposition but one no less penetrating into the soul by Annabel’s eye.

Jane Boyer: On your website you describe yourself as constantly being “drawn to objects and the invisible stories that surround them; [t]hrough their subtle representation…exploring their power as intercessionary agents that allow socially acceptable emotional expression. The work presents itself as a complex mixture of scientific observation and tender girlish enthusiasm which often belies their history.”  That is a wonderful compendium of mystery, fact and fascination.  Do they share equal weight in your explorations?

Christening Gown Ayrshire ©2002 Annabel Dover

Christening Gown Ayrshire, ©2002 Annabel Dover, oil on board

Annabel Dover: I really enjoyed the show ‘Life or Theatre’ by Charlotte Salomans. It showed a very personal, fabulous fantasy representation of her life.

My upbringing was constructed from lies and my parents indulged in their own personal dramas. The truth was impossible to decipher and the objects that surrounded my sisters and I were often the only witnesses to ludicrous acts of fantasy and violence – the Freemason’s case with a bag of un-hewn rocks, a sign of dishonour; the naval coat with the buttons ripped off, indicators of an affair that my father had with a Naval officer; the college gown of my sisters’ father, an alcoholic professor; the love letters of his father, Canon for the BBC, to his fiancé; the jewellery that represented both my mother’s and my grandmother’s love affairs. These and many other objects highlighted the traumas and the breaks in human relationships that made up the atmosphere of my upbringing. The stories told to me by my family unravelled with the discovery of these indiscreet objects.

The personal stories people tell are fascinating to me, they announce who they would like to be and often contrast with how others might perceive them to actually be.

Water Garden ©2012 Annabel Dover

Water Garden, ©2012 Annabel Dover, water, plants, moss, glass dome

JB: A few years ago Anna White photographed your studio over the course of a year, she asked you to take your own photographs of your daily life and write down thoughts about your images. She included one of these texts and your accompanying photograph on her website. What strikes me is the association you make between the history of the rose bed outside your studio window and your own life history through the rose in the image. Association is a powerful tool for memory, can you explain some of the ways you use association in your work?

AD: I really love it when people communicate with me and I really felt this after the MA follow on show at Central St Martins. Lots of people came up to me and shared their stories. I had made a self-lit cubicle of roughly vitruvian proportions with a theatre blackout curtain and 365 small paintings inside. The images were of family photographs and things I had collected when I worked for an Antique dealer doing house clearances. I was touched by how many people felt a connection with images of other people’s belongings.

Iris' Stocking ©2011 Annabel Dover

Iris’ Stocking, ©2011 Annabel Dover, cyanotype

JB: Your piece, Iris’ Stocking, is a life-size cyanotype of a woman’s seamed stocking from the 40’s. This is about all that can be gleaned from looking at the work, but the addition of the story behind this stocking gives an electrifying significance to the piece. Can you tell us more about the work, the stockings and the significance it all has for you?

AD: My grandmother kept a pair or gossamer thin silk stockings in a drawer along with a lipstick and a handkerchief ready for her husband’s return from the war. He never did return and was pronounced missing presumed dead. She kept these hidden and locked in her bureau and was found along with a photo of her husband in her wallet, after she died. She had remarried a horrible bully, my grandfather.

JB: Carol Mavor has written a beautiful fairy tale of your life, called Like Weeds.  Much of your work deals with the stories attached to objects, or more specifically, the stories people tell of their objects. Do you think of these stories people tell as fairy tales of a sort? Can you describe or define the boundary between real life experience and when the experience becomes a story?

St. Anthony & Putti ©2010 Annabel Dover

St. Anthony & Putti, ©2010 Annabel Dover, silverpoint

AD: I think they are. I think they change each time we tell them. My stepfather has dementia and no longer knows who I am. He was a POW in WWII and now when he talks about his time there it’s based on the plot of The Great Escape. I think we have always been characters in our own fairy tale. The essay Family Romances, [by Freud], talks about this:

“The child’s imagination becomes engaged in the task of getting free from the parents of whom he now has a low opinion and of replacing them by others, who, as a rule, are of higher social standing. He will make use in this connection of any opportune coincidences from his actual experience, such as his becoming acquainted with the Lord of the Manor or some landed proprietor if he lives in the country or with some member of the aristocracy if he lives in town. Chance occurrences of this kind arouse the child’s envy, which finds expression in a phantasy in which both his parents are replaced by others of better birth.”[1]


[1] Freud, S. (1909). Family Romances. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume IX (1906-1908): Jensen’s ‘Gradiva’ and Other Works, 235


I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests. Your book purchase made through This ‘Me’ of Mine will help raise funds for the project.

Annabel’s suggested reading:

Archaeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucoult

Art and Artifact by James Putnam

Biographical Objects by Janet Hoskins

Burning with Desire by Geoffrey Batchen

Charles Darwin and Victorian Visual Culture by Jonathan Smith

Reading Boyishly by Carol Mavor

The Archive edited by Charles Merewether

The Emancipated Spectator by Jacques Rancière

The Familial Gaze by Marianne Hirsch

The Politics of Focus by Lindsay Smith

Jane’s additions:

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

If you enjoyed this interview, please follow This ‘Me’ of Mine by clicking the ‘follow’ button below.  You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, those links are also below.  Pop in and see the great work our partners are doing too! Click on the logos below to go to their sites.

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Memory Surfaces

[Imprint] Soft_Terrain (inverted), 2012 Sandra Crisp

[Imprint] Soft_Terrain (inverted), © 2012 Sandra Crisp, Ink Jet Print

Sandra’s art is some of the most visually complex work I have ever seen; every time I see her work I am amazed all over again. She works with both static and moving images, curiously the boundary between what is static and what is moving seems to fade away; bits of data are set in motion and bits of life are captured – one easily becomes the other in her hands. In this interview we talk about the barrage of media, memory, continuity and the archive. Is stream of consciousness a natural state equal in magnitude to outside media overload? I think so after talking with Sandra.

(NB: click on any of Sandra’s images to zoom into more detail).

Jane Boyer: You’ve mentioned that your process is slow and you engage this purposefully to counter the invasive speed of media information.  Is this engagement with slowness a kind of self-imposed isolation or is it an immersion?  Do either help counter the barrage of media?

Sandra Crisp: I think that my approach does form a kind of immersion really, it is key to my working process which evolves gradually over time. People have often commented that the work is very complex. It requests an action of slowing down from within to take in the density of detail. I am not sure that I can claim that this slows down the barrage out there, but the intention is definitely to provide a sense of contemplation or slowing down – a counter action.

Pancake Ice (cluster), 2012 Sandra Crisp

Pancake Ice (cluster), © 2012 Sandra Crisp, Ink Jet Print

When I began working digitally just over ten years ago, there seemed to be a general idea in the area of fine art that working within this medium was somehow faster or easier, that the results are impersonal or detached. In fact, most off-the-shelf software is marketed to perform industry image or film editing tasks ever faster and therefore more economically. Each new software update offers an almost obsessive increased speed factor as a main selling point; I still really enjoy the challenge of using out-of-date software versions to address this issue of built in obsolescence. The work is not really about using the latest technology more about using what is around me and readily available, continuing the idea of digital bricolage in my practice.

JB: It strikes me in looking at your Work-in-Progress posts, the notes you make are very intimate much like notes in a studio notebook intended for the artist’s eyes only, yet you choose to make them public.  What is behind the removal of this boundary between private and public and why have you chosen to do it with such a complex mode as stream of consciousness thinking about your working process?

SC: My practice largely revolves around process, so I have approached the blog as I would any other new process; testing it out, trying to explore its form from a fresh angle. From a practice point of view, I am really interested in whether doing these regular informal updates will take the work itself in new directions, becoming entwined with the creative process itself or remain as a diary or record. For me, a stream of consciousness is not a complex approach at all as this is exactly how I work, by holding on to different ideas and developing them through thought process and memory, aided by digital technology and the archive, until connections evolve between previously unrelated elements. The blog format does not have to follow a traditional written literary or academic structure with sentences, punctuation, line and paragraphs, and have any a definite start and end point; it can be open ended, more like an open dialogue and that suits my way of working really well.

Diagram (artificial tree), 2010 Sandra Crisp

Diagram (artificial tree), © 2010 Sandra Crisp, Ink Jet Print

JB: Your own technique of collecting pieces of information presents a ‘compossible’ world, which you relate to personal memory, your own continuity. What is behind your work ‘The Bigger Picture’?

SC: ‘The Bigger Picture’ uses multiple thumbnail visuals found online and scanned media visuals  arranged within a grid formation and contact-sheet format; visuals are continually erased and reworked until the work hovers upon the boundary of disintegration and erasure: Information reduced to a near-abstract mosaic.  Similar to other works in the same series, the image addresses meaning, or loss of this; traces of figures and objects are just discernible but their exact origins or source has become blurred. A narrative seems to be present, but is totally fragmented. The title of the work – ‘The Bigger Picture’ is asking the viewer to stand back and look at the overall context- to see the bigger picture and question the continual everyday bombardment of information; that was the idea anyway.

The Bigger Picture, 2010 sandra Crisp

The Bigger Picture, © 2010 Sandra Crisp, Ink Jet Print

JB: “Images with their origins in the mass media become ingrained in memory – attached to other bits of personal information, ideas and concepts:  A cyclical process of internalising information from ‘out there’, through my own thinking space and then releasing it outwards again…. Collecting, collating, making sense and discovering what is meaningful.” This is an interesting statement on influence from your portfolio website.  Do you think the influence of mass media is changing the way we perceive?  Do we perceive beyond our own senses; perception as amalgamation rather than perception as sensory?

SC: I think that this is undoubtedly true; we do not witness this entire media as passive bystanders by looking in from the outside. Popular culture, the media, and more recently the proliferation of communication media surround us, influencing how we navigate our world. Perception may be altered through both amalgamation over time and also via direct sensory input or experience, we know that we are operating within electronic networks but I don’t think anybody actually sits down and thinks about that directly!

Soft Terrain, © 2011 Sandra Crisp

Soft Terrain, © 2011 Sandra Crisp, Ink Jet Print

JB: Do you feel this transience of information means we are beginning to construct our memories, in the sense of filling in the blanks, and does the archive present a structure to do this? Do you agree with many emerging artists that memory cannot be trusted?

SC: Maybe this is why Facebook as a form of vast public archive/database is so popular – by uploading personal photographs and information we are constructing memory, using it as a way of editing and ascertaining what is important; filling in the blanks. So yes, I think that the archive does offer a structure for this. I often think of my work, both still and moving images as memory surfaces particularly when I am working with pixels on screen. There, transient and borrowed information is anchored and reconfigured until new meanings are formed; a process of filtering the digital until it fuses with my own memory and associations.  Recollection and memory is affected by so many different inputs and stimuli, therefore, in this data driven age where the information we absorbs is transient and in continual flux it would seems that memory can be trusted ever less.


I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the Bookshop to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests. Your book purchase made through This ‘Me’ of Mine will help raise funds for the project.

Sandra’s suggested reading:

Ai Weiwei Speaks with Hans Ulrich Obrist by Hans Ulrich Obrist & Ai WeiWei
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit by Sherry Turkle
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle
The Hidden Connections: A Science for Sustainable living by Fritjof Capra
O.M. Ungers: Morphologies, City Metaphors by O.M. Ungers
Chance (Documents of Contemporary Art) Whitechapel Art Gallery edited by Margaret Iverson
Digital Art (World of Art) by Christiane Paul
Robert Smithson: Spiral Jetty edited by Lynne Cooke
Atlas of Cyberspace by Martin Dodge & Rob Kitchin

Jane’s Additions:

Terror and the Sublime in Art and Critical Theory: from Auschwitz to Hiroshima to September 11 and Beyond by Gene Ray
New Media in Late 20th Century Art by Michael Rush

If you enjoyed this interview, please follow This ‘Me’ of Mine by clicking the ‘follow’ button below.  You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook, those links are also below.  Pop in and see the great work our partners are doing too! Click on the logos below to go to their sites.

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Without Any Voice

Sarah has had a great deal of experience working with children, her background in teaching art to special needs children along with degrees in psychology and dance scenography has given her a unique view of how we communicate, especially through body language.  She has a particular interest in vulnerability and this body-language communication.  For Sarah, what is vulnerable is not weak, but she sees a strength and dignity when people allow vulnerability to remain visible.  She sees faces and hands as the most expressive parts of the body with our faces becoming a roadmap to our lives as we age.  Gender plays an important role in this ‘roadmap’ for Sarah because she recognizes the difference males and females have in response to experiences. She also believes skin has a unique ability to communicate the power of touch and is important in defining self-image.

Jane Boyer: Your work has revolved around skin.  What is it you are exploring through skin and what does skin represent for you?

Sketchbook journal collage by Sarah Hervey

Sketchbook journal collage by Sarah Hervey

Sarah Hervey: Skin represents to me, the boundary between the necessary social world and the internal struggles that people have.  I’m exploring boundaries really and surfaces, I’m exploring the ideas around what we see on the surface which protects what’s underneath, but also exposes something about a person.  It started with my interest in ageing skin and how it can be like a map of a person’s emotions because the creases and all the experiences start to stay there as evidence of what somebody has felt underneath their skin.

JB: Body language is also important in your work.  Do you believe body language expresses the psychology of a person in ways not communicated verbally?

SH: Yes, it does.  I became interested in this because I worked with children who had language difficulties and children in difficult situations, like when a child is ill in hospital and they’re surrounded by very scary procedures and people they don’t know.  Their body language is very important; the body language of those people dealing with them is also quite critical.  I went on to teach children with emotional difficulties who had experienced confusing body language.  So that was of general interest for me and it was enhanced when I did my MA in design for dance because dancers utilize the body to express language in physical theatre, which I love.  It exists without any voice, it’s pure body language.  It’s absolutely extraordinary how much you can understand without anybody ever speaking.

Purple Nude (c)2011 Sarah Hervey

Purple Nude (c) 2011 Sarah Hervey

JB: Your painting Purple Nude conveys a sense of this non-verbal communication in the relationship of the figure’s feet and a very distinct line on the floor.  This relationship, in essence, is the painting.  How do you view this relationship and does it feel like a visual expression of non-verbal communication to you?

SH: Yes, I think it completely does.  When I did that painting I felt very vulnerable and I was pretty consumed with my own vulnerability for quite a long time into doing the picture itself, then I began to notice how vulnerable the model was.  I think it was just by chance he chose to put his feet behind that line, but because he has his feet behind the line he’s keeping to some boundary.

I wasn’t expecting that particular model that night and it was a bit of a surprise because I think he must have been the oldest person I’ve ever drawn or painted.  I had been thinking a lot about vulnerability and ageing anyway, I felt this was a huge opportunity to paint something I was interested in, but because I wasn’t expecting it and this was a real person and not something I’d organised, I had to really pull myself together and get on with it.  I think that’s probably why there is so much that came out in the painting.  I had to do it quickly as well, it was just one evening.

Images of assumptions, sketchbook journal collage by Sarah Hervey

‘Images of assumptions’, sketchbook journal collage by Sarah Hervey

JB: Much of the vulnerability you are interested in and you explore is based in gender issues and ageing.  Can you tell us what it is particularly about vulnerability, experienced through gender and age, which interests you?

SH: I think there has been a lot of research into why women live longer on the whole and have a resilience somehow, yet the way we are supposed to attract men is to be vulnerable, the weaker sex, so there’s all that dynamic which is interesting.  Because I have this idea about skin and how your history shows on your face, so if you’ve had a life where you’ve felt vulnerable it will begin to show.  As your body gets older you just appear more vulnerable because your skin gets thinner, your bones aren’t as strong, you find it more difficult to hold your head up straight and keep your back straight and so your body starts to cow.  The different way men and women deal with that interests me; how we feel about that is the internal part of skin, then the way society looks at you is the external part. I mean, the essence of being female or male is different and I feel it is important to struggle to understand more precisely the positions of men and women within these boundaries.  My point of view is as a woman.  I can’t understand my own vulnerability and the vulnerability of women without understanding the vulnerability of men.


In an effort to raise funds for This ‘Me’ of Mine, I’ve asked the artists to share a list of books they find informative for their practice. Follow the links here or visit the BOOKSHOP to see all the books suggested so far. We hope you will see something inspiring for your own interests.

Now is a great time to purchase through the This ‘Me’ of Mine bookshop because The Book Depository is offering great discounts on purchases, for example most of Sarah’s reading list is on sale!

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to participate in our This ‘Me’ of Mine Companion Book head-count, see the footer section at the bottom of the page for the sign-up form and more information.

Sarah’s Reading List:

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

The Book of Skin by Steven Connor

One Place After Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity  by Miwon Kwon

The Thinking Hand by Juhani Pallasmaa

The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses  by Juhani Pallasmaa

On Kindness by Adam Phillips & Barbara Taylor

Touch Me: The Mystery of the Surface by Gregor Eichinger

Art and Feminism by Peggy Phelan

Jane’s Additions:

Alice Neel by Ann Temkin (follow the link to Abe Books)

Lucian Freud Paintings by Robert Hughes

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Additional 10% off Book Purchases until 14 May 2012

Now is a great time to purchase books in our Bookshop!  The Book Depository is offering a further 10% discount on their already discounted prices through 14 May 2012.  Use the coupon code below to get your discount when you place an order through this site.

10% Discount / APMA12 Coupon Code / Book Depository

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