SARAH MAPLE, B. 1985, ENGLAND
Born in Sussex to an Iranian Muslim mother and Christian British father, Sarah Maple’s upbringing under a dual-religious household has impacted greatly on her work. Upon graduating from a degree in Fine Art from Kingston University, her reputation grew after winning Channel 4 and Saatchi Gallery's 4 New Sensations award, which aimed to find 'the most exciting and imaginative artistic talent in the UK'. In 2015 Sarah was awarded a £30,000 grant by Sky Arts Scholarship to continue her work promoting diversity issues.
Sarah’s upbringing under a roof of mixed religious ethics is a prominent theme in her oeuvre. Blurring the lines between popular culture and religious devotion in an unapologetically mischievous manner, Sarah's art challenges traditional concepts of identity, sexuality, religion, gender and roles of women in patriarchal societies. Her work fuses painting, photography, mixed media and performance.
Sarah has exhibited at galleries including A.I.R. Gallery in New York, AGO in Canada, the Southbank Centre in London, the New Art Exchange in Nottingham, Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast and Kunisthoone in Estonia. Her work has been the subject of several documentaries including ARTE and VPRO, and she has been invited as a guest speaker to Amnesty International, as well as Universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Oxford. Sarah has collaborated with the artist and filmmaker Nick Knight on video projects, and her work has featured in publications by Phaidon, Gestalten and the Whitechapel Gallery.
Sarah’s work has a strong sense of irony, often charged with allusions to contemporary celebrity culture, the objectification of women and Western society’s views towards Islam. Her bold and confident images are pragmatic in their ethical questioning. Photos of a self-made 'anti rape cloak', naked self-portrait paintings with genitalia blocked by the words 'using my intelligence' and canvases stating 'this is an investment' all raise conversations on the nature of art in society, and its deeper place as an instrument for affecting a more inquisitive, tolerant collective consciousness.
In my work I aim to make people question beliefs or ingrained attitudes/learned behaviour, almost without them realising it. For me art is about trying to create social change...I try to be an activist in my everyday life. I feel that small gestures can have a knock-on effect on the world around me. In a piece called ‘Inaction’ I used a lyric from a Faithless song ‘Inaction is a weapon of mass destruction’ because I believe we are all responsible for change in our own individual way. In the piece the words dominate, and the viewer is forced to look him or herself in the eye.
For The unbreakable rope, Sarah is presenting two works: God Is A Feminist and Self-portrait with my Mother's Headscarf and Breast of Kate Moss. This pair of paintings evoke the feminist controversy between Eastern and Western societies, concerning the traditional versus the contemporary visions of a female’s role within society, at the same time challenging received knowledge of gender in religious contexts.