Thursday, November 01, 2007

Art Space Talk: Sarah Maple

I Heart Jihad, Digital Print

Sarah Maple has been called many things due to her art-- some people have lashed out at her with vulgar anonymous messages, others have praised her for her bravery and humor, some have called her the heir to Tracey Emin's throne. This is my second interview with Sarah and I am pleased to call her 'friend'.

Brian Sherwin: Sarah, last time we chatted you had just found out that you were one of the four finalists in the 4 New Sensations competition launched by Channel 4 and The Saatchi Gallery. Just days ago you found out that you were the winner of the finalist circle. I remember we communicated just days before the competition came to a close and you seemed a little nervous. Did you have doubts?

Sarah Maple: Yes I was quite nervous about it. I think because of the work I had made was this 'Vote For Me' campaign, many people knew about what I was doing. There felt like a lot of pressure to win had built up, it wasn't like I could just slip away and hide if I didn't win! Also not only about finding out about winning but the way my whole life for the past few months felt like it was waiting for the climax of this show. So it was quite a strange feeling that it was all gonna be over!

BS: For those who don't know, 4 New Sensations is a brand new art prize instigated to find the most imaginative and talented artists graduating in the UK. How does it feel to know that you, by winning, have set the standard for that competition?

SM: It feels really great, it's great to be the first person that won it. They're going to do it every year now I think. I hope it becomes a really big prize.
She Has a Very Hot Arse, Digital Print

BS: An exhibition of all twenty finalists was held at The Truman Brewery Brick Lane to coincide with Frieze art Fair. What was that experience like?

SM: It was good because I think we did get quite a lot of traffic from Frieze which was excellent. I had quite a few people coming up to me at Frieze who recognized me from the show, so I did feel like a bit of a Z list celebrity which was great fun! Haha! I really liked the Truman Brewery as a location as well, I'd like to do a show again there in the future.

BS: The works by Marcus Lanyon and Mark Melvin have been acquired by the Zabludowicz Collection and Mie Olise Kjaergaard's work has been purchased by a private collector. Your work will become part of Channel 4's art collection, Art4. Tell me, did you have much contact with the other finalists throughout this process? Would you say there was a form of camaraderie among the four of you or was it every man for himself, so to speak?

SM: We didn't really get the chance! I thought they may organise an occasion for us to meet but it didn't happen which was a shame. The private view was so packed, I couldn't spot any of them, I happened to bump into Marcus on the stairs and then I bumped into Mie at Frieze! Mie and I were chatting before we even knew we had been shortlisted so I think there was a little camaraderie amongst us girls!

BS: Sarah, I understand there was a bit of an exposure blitz during the final days of the competition. The four of you found creative ways to capture votes. What exactly did you do?

SM: Was there? Oh! Well as my work as a political campaign part of my work was this 'Rally' I had been planning on doing but put off because I was a bit scared!! Basically I went round London with a friend, a megaphone, Vote For Me t-shirts and a load of flyer's and campaigned like a politician. It was hilarious. We got thrown of South Bank and Trafalgar Square as we didn't have permission. It was a great day though and I made a few friends out of it, haha! We spent more time in the pub then actually campaigning but it did get me a few more votes AND I didn't get arrested which was great. Other things I did was a 'Vote For Me' myspace and a 'Vote For Me' facebook group which was all part of the work. The word seemed to spread quite fast. I always make my own publicity anyway, I am a self confessed media whore.

BS: Where were you at when you found out that you had won? Who informed you that you had won? Can you describe how you felt? Also, who was the first person you told?

SM: Well I was actually at work. On a Monday I work in a little shop in the Brighton lanes. They called me up and a bit of wee came out when the phone went and I saw a London number. It was Annabel from Saatchi who informed me. It felt amazing when she told me, I was so happy. And relieved! The first person I called was my boyfriend, then obviously my Mum who was in a meeting!! I spent the whole day on the phone getting texts and phone calls! For a moment I was worried that I might get fired but then I thought 'Fuck it if I get fired I'm Saatchi's whore!' It is an amazing feeling to win but I know that it doesn't guarantee future success for me. Now the real hard work starts!

BS: Sarah, do you have any other experiences that you would like to share with our readers? I'm certain you have met some interesting people in the last few weeks...

SM: Yes. Er keep your feet on the ground and be careful who you do business with.

Women Bleed, 50 x 80 cm, C-Type Print

BS: How do you think winning 4 New Sensations will change your life? It would seem that the ball is in your court...

SM: I must say it has totally changed everything for me. It has got me that attention I needed to kick start my career. It is a dream come true, i couldn't ask for a better start, it is absolutely incredible. But like I said earlier it is never going to be easy, I need to work even harder now to show I deserved it and to gain that longevity as an artist I am craving. There are some very exciting things being offered to me now but I'm not going to get carried away until it happens for sure! I'm staying realistic!

BS: During this time have you still been productive with your art? What have you been working on? Is it true that you are painting again?

SM: Yes I have tried to keep on doing my art but I've had to have a part time job while this has been going on to support myself so I just didn't have the time that I had when I was a student. But luckily with the money I've got from Charlie I can concentrate more on my art work then shop work! I still continued to take photos during this time - the occasional new one would pop up on my myspace! But I have lots of ideas for paintings at the moment so that is what I am concentrating on. I have so many ideas but not enough time to keep up with myself! But now yes I am returning to painting for a bit which I am really excited about. I just painted Miss K Moss and she looks fab (even though she never stays still, the minx).

Swearing is Cool, 50 x 80 cm, C-Type Print

BS: Sarah, you are the perfect example of how the Internet is changing the way that we view art. Artists have more opportunities than ever before due to the Internet. Do you have anything that you would like to add to that view-- in your opinion, how important is the Internet for artists?

SM: So so important, I cannot stress that enough. Since i got my website and set up my myspace in June everything has changed, so many opportunities have come my way. I would say 99% of things I have achieved this year is because I really went for it online and really put myself out there. The key to success is the right exposure so that is what artists need to start doing. A website is the key! (er, and good art, haha)

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to tell us about the competition or your art? Perhaps you would like to take this time to thank a few people?

SM: Um I would like to thank everyone that took part in the show, everyone at Saatchi and Tiger Aspect, the judges, and most importantly everyone who voted for me, sent me messages and really supported me and my art, I am so grateful!
You can learn more about Sarah Maple by visiting her website-- You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


Toni Tiller said...

wow, another painting of kate moss?

how inspired.

Toni Tiller said...

wow, another painting of kate moss.

how inspired.

Anonymous said...

I hope that Sarah sticks with the controversy. She plays it out well. We need humor like this in todays world. I get so very tired of all the death scenes that most artists are fixated on today. I know that we have wars going on, but we can't forget to laugh!

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I enjoy her work, but I must say that Sarah Maple is very good at marketing. The way she mixes marketing into her process is brilliant. Most artists today lack those crucial skills and that is why you find jealous artists who rant about artists like Maple while doing nothing to expose themselves. So before you bash Maple for her success you should rethink the path you are on as an artist. If you don't agree with her standing most likely you will not agree with most of the professionals in the art world. It might be best to give up the game now if you have that mindset. The art world is a game of business regardless if you want to accept it or not. Obviously Maple is going somewhere with her work and others must agree or she would not have got this far. If you think you can do better, show us! Learn some basics of gaining online exposure and release your talent upon the world! Art today is anyones game and Maple is a top player. You don't have to agree with her work, but you CAN learn something from what she has achieved. We had a debate about Saatchi's competition in class a few weeks ago. The students who complained the most are the ones who have virtually no identity online, the ones who expect everything to fall into their lap, which is a foolish fantasy at best. As this interview suggests the internet is changing the way that art is seen or at least how artists can market themselves. We can all learn from this. The train is leaving the station!

Toni Tiller said...

your comment assumes that we all define success by exposure and sales.
if that is the sole criteria by which you define success, then yes, she has been wildly successful.

personally, i define success by the work itself, not the level of exposure, and there she falls remarkably short.

Anonymous said...

I agree !!!

Anonymous said...

Just thought I would bring attention to a few other projects that revolve around the idea of "marketing" - with a twist of humor: Industry of the Ordinary: and Anni Holm:

Anonymous said...

Toni Tiller: How can she be what you presume when she is only starting out as an artist and working hard to establish herself in an industry which is one of the hardest in the world to fall into? – In time Sarah will become what destiny has set out for her, if this is an artist or a mother or a mother and an artist. Give her time to develop she is only out of University and had the weight of the world thrown upon her shoulders. She is doing work a lot of people would not get away with and work is also being pulled from shows and events because of its nature. To me you seem like an intelligent person Toni but bitterness and lack of insight is something you have to readjust your life towards. Try Grace today and see how Karma works out for you.

Anonymous (-Rorke): I do not get what Marketing means here. She was given a chance and she took it. Throughout that year on Saatchi not a lot of peoples work impressed me but I was lucky to see her work on these in her studio. So I do have first hand knowledge of the work as I have seen how she manipulates ideas and approaches to the end product. Yes Sarah is a very intelligent young woman, but like I have said above. Give her time.

Toni Tiller (again): Now you are sounding rather odd here. Bill Viola has made some very tacky artwork along with Basquiat and Hurst to Emin. But this work leaves people in awe in Galleries all over the world. If you define success in the work itself Art History classes and common sense within the arts is also needed in great demand here There are a lot of niche artists on your own website which need attention, same old, same old. If you look at the work through the eyes of art history you will see so many “other” artists shine though. At least Sarah, like Banksy (to drop in a name) are changing ideas, changing art history and in that changing how ones defines art practice. Bravo for the educated minds (in publication, media, broadcasting and the Elite) who see her as a growing talent. Toni, it must be a very cold place in your head, you are almost alone with your train of thought and aggression in not seeing a vision.

To sum this all up: Sarah is an amazing talent and I do not give a lot of people in the arts credit as it is a very fickle institution and there are too many disillusioned artists out there. But this one young woman has that talent and time will tell. She has an opening within the arts which no other artist of her generation is doing. For that we have to stand up and applaud. She is one of only a few new artists who inspire and it will not be long until we see her work placed in Saatchi and the Tate along with MoMa.