Thursday, 30 July 2009

Sarah Tse

From a single lead tip flow images of tiny square robots, towering stacks of teacups, innocent woodland creatures, and sensuously blooming roses. The childhood images blossom for a fleeting moment on a plaster wall before they are whitewashed over for the sake of a new pencil-drawn project.

These transitory sketches of youth are the work of Central Saint Martins student Sarah Tse who uses her childhood experiences, travels and dreams as inspiration for her larger-than-life drawings.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, most of Sarah’s influences come from her time spent in China. The pencil drawings she currently creates are paradoxes inspired by childhood toys she once played with and patterns she saw during her internships.

“I was particularly impressed with the Chinese artists’ ability to capture different textures, surfaces and expressions,” Sarah writes on email. From those Chinese artists, she has drawn an array of paradoxical patterns and images that “produce a nostalgic, timeless, disturbing and sentimental ambience for [her] drawings.”

While pencil sketches full of fanciful textures and paradoxical shapes or creatures are Sarah’s primary form of art now, she started by dabbling in various art mediums that emphasized a different set of themes and subjects.

“In the past, my studio practice always started with a fixed agenda, like the metamorphosis of female adolescence or the Japanese porn culture,” Sarah explains, “For each agenda, I tried a medium, or a mix of different media, that would best illustrate its contents.”

Sarah started with oil portraits and then quickly moved on to other forms, each demonstrating a specific theme or message. She would use photographic collages, projected photos, and other combinations of art to portray the tension between childlike adolescence and feminine sexuality. Some of her early projects were used to convey specific messages, such as her pale pink booth installment with paper doll cutouts that was a commentary on Japanese childhood sexuality.

But the cutouts, booths, and pictures never seemed to fully inspire her, and Sarah’s art to never feel like her own. It was because of this lack of motivation that she transfered to the pencil drawings she currently creates. Through her sketches, Sarah is now able to manipulate the meaning of objects and change the way the world is interpreted.

“Drawing is the most basic and honest tool in visual arts,” she says. “[It] delivers well the fragile and timeless quality intended in my work.”

And so, seven years after her acceptance into CSM A-levels for Fine Arts, Sarah follows the influential footsteps of Mary Ryden and Zoe Mendelson by drawing dream-like visions from her childhood, though now she’s pushing the boundaries of illustration by expanding from canvas to walls and, eventually, furniture and floors.

“I use wall installments because pencil drawings on a wall produce a temporary yet powerful narrative,” she said.

Walls provide a canvas that lacks the vulnerability of paper, giving transitory quality similar in nature to dreams- a vital element for her drawings as Sarah seeks to create an alternate realm through her sketches; a world where people can escape reality and remain innocent.

Expect to see Sarah in September in a collaborative exhibition at the Jealous Gallery, as well as a solo exhibition in January 2010 in Manchester.

For more pictures of her work, go to Sarah's jotta Profile.

By Emily Thomas

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