Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Blair, H., Ones to Watch, Jotta, 27/01/09


Sarah Doyle is fascinated by fame and the emulation of idols in popular culture. Currently adorning the walls of the Transition gallery in London, her faux naïve paintings of worn out starlets are created using tools of teenhood amd explore the delirium of fame and fandom.

Words: Heather Blair

Ask someone to recall their formative teenage years and the chances are you'd be confronted with two very conflicting responses - there's those who reminisce with joy at those heady, hormonal days of fun and freedom and those instead, who recoil with horror at the thought of returning to a life of greasy hair, body piercings and long mornings spent battling quadratic equations.

Lying firmly between these two camps is the work of London based artist, Sarah Doyle. Expressive and engaging, Doyle's work calls on the iconography of popular culture in order to produce an impressive dialogue between youth and adulthood.

Currently exhibiting work in "Too Much is Not Enough," a group show at the Transition Gallery in Hackney, much of Doyle's work recalls those moments of adolescence that a lot of us have pushed to the furthest reaches of our consciousness. "I tend to use the teenage years more as a symbol of feeling fragile, socially inept or awkward," Doyle describes. "I am interested in the times when we are unsure of ourselves, when our insecurities are very close to the surface."

Born in Sunderland, with time spent in Leeds and Zambia while growing up, Doyle's practice recalls the need to establish identity and the unashamed desire to fit in which consumes nearly all of us at some point in our early lives.
"I try to hold up a mirror with my work so that others can see themselves and their own insecurities and longings there too." Doyle explains. It is through this somewhat cathartic exorcism of her own adolescence that Doyle creates portraits which address standard teenage neuroses with nostalgia and a wry smile.

Using recognisable faces established firmly within popular culture and by playing on the kitschiness of mostly American iconography, Doyle revisits the influence that idols (usually in the form of musicians and film stars) can have when growing up. Highlighting the inherent need within young women to emulate icons and celebrities, Doyle subverts this thought in her most current animated work at Transition.

"The actresses in this series of work are playing other actresses in biopics. Often these actresses are connected to the person they are playing, in that they have been fans of them or admire them. Some of the actresses concerned have actually produced the biopics themselves and are so determined to play their heroines."

By bringing our attention to those who may be icons to our own personal icons, Doyle's work instigates a reevaluation of our very understanding of the notion of celebrities and in some way, goes towards demystifying the celestial status that many of us attribute to those that we particularly admire.

Das, J., Run Riot, 09/02/09


Interview: Jareh meets artist Sarah Doyle

When I recently came across Sarah Doyle's work I wanted to know more. A UK based artist her style is witty, interdisciplinary and eclectic. Encompassing an array of film, illustration and portraiture her work has been shown internationally and recent solo shows include 'The Nexus Treatment' at Space Station Sixty-Five Gallery and 'Celebrated Sobriquets' at The Surgery London.

She was the winner of the New Artist Category at The Elle Style Awards. She has contributed illustrations to Rubbish magazine & Arty. Her recent animation work and portraiture is currently on show at Transition Gallery, E8.

Q+ A with Sarah Doyle

Jareh: Your work is very versatile and encompasses drawing, sculpture, film, illustration, painting, elements of popular culture etc. How would you describe Sarah Doyle's work?
Sarah: I work in many different mediums. It depends on what I think is the most appropriate for the piece of work I am making.

Jareh: Purestarproducts?
Sarah: Purestarproducts is my webpage which I'm afraid is very old and desperately needs updating. There is an archive of some of my work on there, but for newer projects I would recommend going to my blog, until I get the chance to re-do the webpage.

Basically the name Purestarproducts came from a piece of work I made while I was studying. I made various products- chocolates, face cream, etc. The products were supposed to have properties in them that gave the user 'star quality'.

I made videos of people using the products and transforming by acting like a person they admire. So they gave their own interpretation of what star quality is.

I used the name Purestarproducts and it just stuck as the name of the website. However the webpage isn't an actual project it is really an archive of my work.

Jareh: Influences/Inspiration?
Sarah: My inspiration comes from many different sources. If there is a subject I'm interested in I will tend to read about it then the natural progression is to make work about it too. I make work about subjects that I can identify with or that I feel empathy with.

I thought about making a new list of influences and inspirations. Then it occurred to me that I already spent a good while compiling a list of things I like on MySpace. I thought that this would be an appropriate list to use as I have also made work inspired by MySpace. As well as having used MySpace as part of the work itself with my "Celebrated Sobriquets", here is a link to more info about this work:

Anyway I digress, you can find a list of interests on my MySpace page:


Jareh: Heroes?
Sarah: My family and friends. Jim Henson.

Jareh: I thought your paintings and a short animation of actresses playing other actresses in biopics for Too Much Is Not Enough was the best interpretation of 'Fame' in the show. What was your rationale behind the piece?
Sarah: The actresses in the series of work I am currently showing at Transition Gallery are playing the part of other actresses in biopics. Often the actresses in biopics are connected to the person they are playing in that they have been fans of them or admire them. Some of the actresses concerned have actually produced the biopics themselves they are so determined to play their heroines. Our relationships with celebrities in this sense is about playing and imagining we are the celebrity in question. Like playing at being a princess or a queen, as we would have as children. Also the biopic work is related to this and the cliché about all portraits being self-portraits, the actresses are making their own self-portraits in these biopics.

Jareh: I also really identified with the animated piece and feel it was almost autobiographical?
Sarah: The animation shows the actress playing Audrey (Jennifer Love Hewitt) aping a dance from an Audrey Hepburn movie. She is spinning around and around in a sort of whirling dervish. I think the writing in this piece of work can relate to a lot of people in an autobiographical sense. The words on the animation are actually taken from the biopic 'The Audrey Hepburn Story'. All of the lines are written by the scriptwriter of the film and are what they imagined Audrey Hepburn might have said in her private life. I think a lot of biopics allow space in their scripts so that you can imagine yourself as the character being depicted.

Jareh: Favourite Star?
Sarah: It varies depending on what my interests are at the time. At the moment I am very interested in Frances Farmer as I've been reading about her life.

Jareh: Group exhibitions versus solo shows, as a lot of your shows tend to be collaborative/in a group environment?
Sarah: I enjoy both solo and group shows; they are both really interesting and push you and the way you work in different ways.

It's great to show your work in group shows, it really helps you look at your own work another way, seeing how your work stands up set alongside other peoples. Also there are some really brilliant curators who bring the work of artists together for group shows. Their vision and the choices they make when they conceive and put shows together can make you see the work in a different way and perhaps with fresh eyes too.

I think a solo show happens most often when you have a large body of work. I have had a couple of solo shows, and mainly it is because I have been approached to do them. It's extremely flattering and quite hard to say no to that. One of my recent solo shows was at The Surgery Gallery in London; they approached me to show in their space, so I made the work for this show specifically. I was also commissioned to make my piece 'The Nexus Treatment' by Space Station 65 gallery, which was also shown as a solo piece with them. It is quite absorbing and really fun to do this type of show, but I do feel that your practice as an artist should be varied by showing and collaborating with others or it could become quite insular and isolating.

Jareh: What do you think of the London Art Scene?
Sarah: The London art scene is really exciting and vibrant. There are a lot of people in London who will just go ahead and get on with projects. I see a lot of people who want something to happen so just get on with it and do it. Saying that though there are people all over the world who are doing this too. There is a bit of a worry with the London scene that it can be a little insular, and thinking that London is the centre of everything so there is no need to look outside. There is even this way of thinking inside London itself (people thinking everything creative is in the east end and not bothering to explore further a field for example). I think as long as you are looking outward and don't get trapped into this way of thinking you are OK.

Future Shows?
Sarah: I have a forthcoming show: 'The Kiss of a Lifetime' at Rogue Project Space Manchester.

It is a show of artists prints curated by Mike Chavez Dawson and is themed around the kiss for Valentines Day. I am making a print based on the movie 'The Bad Seed', in which the lead character Patty McCormick is a young girl who is both a sociopath and a murderer. She uses kisses to manipulate and get what she wants from the adults in her life.

One of her creepy mantras in the movie is the sickingly sweet phrase 'What would you give me for a basket of kisses?'. This is also the title of my work for the kiss show. So if anyone wants to buy a limited edition print based on a creepy sociopath child the Bearspace is the place to come in February.

I also have some work in the forthcoming edition of Cathy Lomax's Arty magazine. This issue will be entitled 'Fame', and I will have more biopic related work in there.

'The Kiss of a Lifetime'
Rogue Project Space
14th - 28th Feb '09
100 Artists - 100 Kisses...

Jareh Das's blog

Michon, A., The Celebrated Crystalline World Of Sarah Doyle, The Critical Friend, No 6, Winter 2007

The Celebrated Crystalline World Of Sarah Doyle

Words: Alex Michon

Sarah Doyle has 1045 friends on MySpace. This hyperspace portal to enclaves of self publicity, these castles floating in the air, with their self proclaimed monarchs of celebrity would seem to be the perfect site for the superstar tinged, sparkling, self defining work which Doyle produces. But it is to simplistic to think her merely as a 'MySpace artist' Doyle's work, for all its outward appearance of achingly contemporary signifiers: the glittering text, the graphic aesthetic, the references to music and fashion may define this 'teenager in the bedroom' space but her work at its core has not only fundamental ideas about the nature of identity and belonging, but also asks important questions about the nature of what is permissable within the current high-faluting, lardy-da-ness of some sections of the contemporary art scene.

Miss Amp, Teenage Dreams So Hard To Beat, Plan B Magazine, Issue 14, September 2006

Teenage Dreams So Hard To Beat

Words: Miss Amp

Sarah Doyle's ephemeral pop art uses felt-tips, Etch-A-Sketch an the Argos catalogue to map out the tricky terrain of teen-world

Whose lips did you imagine you were kissing, back when you were 10, when you folded your hand into a fist and tried to learn how to snog? Whose poster was on your wall, their face blown up so big you could count the pores on their nose, trace the rims of their contact lenses? Sarah Doyle wants to know.
Sarah Doyle's artwork focuses on popular culture and the search for identity, particularly in teenagers. We're taking 100 felt-tip pen drawings of Michael Jackson. We're talking a life-size prince penned onto a duvet cover, and a larger-than-life Prince head on the matching pillow case, his spindly moustache slightly smudged with the artist's drool.
We're talking flickerbooks of people trying to dance like their favorite popstars. We're talking star portraits on Etch-A-Sketches; owls knitted from old cassette tape; a Scraperfoil picture of a horse that surreally blossoms into a centaur with the head of Madonna, as though the imaginary teen creator of the Scraperfoil could suppress her obsession with the queen of pop's visage no longer...

Pawson, M, Sarah Doyle’s Helping You Find The Right Jewellery, Variant Magazine Issue 24, Winter 2005


Words: Mark Pawson

There's more incisive social observation in Sarah Doyle's book of illustrations, Helping You Find The Right Jewellery, which follows the journey of jewellery from the album sleeves of female hip-hop icons to the pages of the Argos catalogue and then onto the earlobes of teenage girls in Peckham. Prices and catalogue numbers are helpfully included to assist you in making those all important budget jewellery purchasing decisions. It's Elizabeth Duke as name-checked by Goldie Lookin' Chain we're talking about here, rather than Jacob The Rap Royalty Jeweller as mentioned by Fifty Cent. Each copy of Helping You Find The Right Jewellery comes with a different pair of enormous plastic laminated earrings - mine are 'Victorian style bow creoles'!

Fudge Magazine, Sarah Doyle Artist, (Japan), July

Fudge Magazine, Sarah Doyle Artist, (Japan), July 2004

Lomax, C., Michon, A., Sarah Doyle, Artist Interview, Arty Magazine, Girls Issue, Feburary 2004

Words: Alex Michon and Cathy Lomax

In this years Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition I found myself drawn to one piece. Unlike the disappointing gestural worthiness of a lot of the other this was video and it showed a stylish, white finger-nailed making marks through squiggles in what looked like a record on a turntable. The record was then spun and the process repeated. After a few minutes it was lifted to magically reveal a drawing of Prince. This is typical of Sarah Doyle’s work combining as it does obsolete children’s toys with her favourite pop personas and creating works of art that sit comfortably within the new genre of the ‘handmade and heartfelt’.