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Printmakers’ Assembly 2020: Sarah Crane

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About the Artist

Sarah Rigby Crane’s academic journey in the arts began at the age of 25, when she undertook a self-funded Arts Foundation Course in Southampton, UK. She was subsequently accepted into a BA (Hons) Degree course in Fine Art at Bristol Polytechnic. Upon graduation, Crane got married and moved to Paris with her husband. There, she pursued her artistic interest exploring the mediums of painting, printmaking and sculpture, enrolling in various courses and participating in several competitions. She has since lived in the US, UK, Beijing, Paris and, at present, Singapore, and has always continued to engage with her main artistic exploration of the human figure and nature. 

Seeking to transpose emotion into a two-dimensional form, the formal concern of linear quality remains crucial to the artist. It is a direct order from the head, intuitively translated into an automatic response from the hand. With the mind at times preoccupied and at times unstimulated, the gestural expressions in Crane’s work are achieved through a long and rigorous process of mark-making. Previously informed by colour, her work in the last decade has been principally in monochrome, with an occasional use of a limited palette. A recent development in her practice has been building pots, and using them as vessels or surfaces for the rendering of her two-dimensional images.


Artist Statement

In Through the looking glass, while I was working in a studio in France with a young female nude, I was reminded of my daughter and myself (as a young woman) and the dilemmas women face between career and family. The title of the print refers to a novel by Lewis Carol. This book inspired this print in two ways. Firstly, in the story of ‘Through the Looking-Glass,’ the land in the mirror operates in reverse. I found many parallels in the way I had to create the print; dealing with an intaglio technique, I had to practically work and think in reverse. I had to write in reverse on the zinc plate, with the words I had chosen only becoming legible after being squeezed through the printing press onto paper. The second parallel can be drawn from Carol’s principal character, Alice, who is presented as a pawn in a big, crazy game of chess. Inspired by Alice’s chaotic and confusing existence, I wanted to explore the complex and conflicting decision-making process women today often face. This print therefore explores the idea that there are no right or wrong paths in life, just different choices that will, in turn, lead to different futures. The journey of which, similar to Alice’s journey, can still be very exciting, exhilarating and beautiful, as we all negotiate the fantastical and ever-changing ‘real’ world.

The image of Spring in Spain was first conceived in the studio from life drawings done in Chinese ink and wax, and translated onto the plate freehand. While doing this, discussions ensued between myself and my friends about the non-commercial aspect of painting nudes. So, returning to the plate at a later date after having visited Spain in Spring, I clothed my model (like a little girl dressing up her dolls) and put her in an olive grove surrounded by beautiful pink blossoms. The signs of new life are contrasted with the bugs in the aged trees feeding off the old wood, with the trees forming a subtle border for the image.

Decorative borders have always come into my work; a “window through a window” imagery. If you look closely, the border in Life contains daisies in full bloom with insects (Milkweed bugs) mating and feeding off the beautiful blooms. I intended this to reflect the harshness of the life cycle; beauty and eventual decay. Artistic considerations always come into my work. Contrasts of tone, composition, variety of mark-making and purity of line exist in harmony. There is a visual repetition between the woman’s hair and the flowers in the border.

All artwork images courtesy of the Artist.

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