Q+A and Media Release about my latest solo exhibition: "All Of The Places That I Have Lived" by 19 Karen



Below is a piece written about my latest solo exhibition by 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace:

Ever wanted to know what it’s like trying to break your way into the big time as an artist or illustrator? British born and Gold Coast based artist Sarah Beetson knows all too well of the hard work and sacrifices that need to be made in the pursuit of success in the industry. Sarah puts her plight to paint in her new body of work All Of The Places That I Have Lived which explores her sense of upheaval of moving 17 times to eight different towns and cities across two continents.
“My life is ever more transient these days, as I divide my time between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and I wanted to create a body of work which draws upon the displacement and disconnection I so often feel as a result of living and working globally, and how this has in turn shaped me as a person and as an artist,” says Sarah.
Sarah has moved around quite a lot in not only her adulthood but also as a child living in three different family homes by the age of 16. From there she found refuge in numerous flats, houses, apartments and squats whilst using her illustration skills to grind away at a career in the competitive British fashion industry. All Of The Places That I Have Lived draws on Sarah’s experiences and how they have impacted her life and her work as an artist.
“All of this has affected my work in different ways in terms of workspaces within each dwelling and the kind of work I was able to create due to spatial and financial restrictions, the area I lived in, the people whom I lived with and the events that happened within each set of four walls,” says Sarah.
Sentimental details are peppered throughout each of the works for All Of The Places That I Have Lived. Using her signature style of playful bright colours with a hint of rock ‘n’ roll Sarah has created one artwork for each place that she has lived in. Self portraits are employed to best portray the nomadic tale.
“Each work features a rough grid template of the layout of the home itself, and when put together, the works form a timeline of my life thus far,” says Sarah. 

And here is the original Q+A session we did about the project:

Q Hi Sarah! Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and what has led you to what you are doing today...

I’m a British artist and illustrator who has been living in Australia for 7 years. I graduated with a First Class BA Hons in Illustration in 2002 from Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall, a beautiful English seaside town where fellow students of many nationalities inspired me – I initially lived with A Norwegian, a Swiss and an Argentinian. After Falmouth, I moved to London where I interned in Fashion for 2 years, working for Mary Portas @ Yellowdoor, Pop Magazine and Stella McCartney as she setup her own label, researching collections and creating designs for fabric print as well as helping to illustrate the shoe room of her London shop. I spent 2 impoverished years selling my own illustrated clothing in Camden Market, whilst grafting hard part time in bars and living in squats when I couldn't make the rent. Around 2005, I began to find more and more illustration work having secured two agents in Europe and North America. In 2006, I discovered I could cut my living costs by moving to Melbourne, where I lived and worked for 3 years and began to exhibit my artwork widely. In 2009 I moved to Queensland to my boyfriend’s idyllic family farm. I have a fabulous setup with a large studio visited daily by my pet hens. I am still in awe of the luxury of space we experience in our homes in Australia, having lived in shoeboxes for years in London. I still spend around 3-5 months per year overseas, in the UK and North America, exhibiting and working.

Q What can we expect to see from your solo exhibition? What were the inspirations behind this body of work?

My life is ever more transient these days, as I divide my time between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and I wanted to create a body of work which draws upon the displacement and disconnection I so often feel as a result of living and working fairly globally, and how this has in turn shaped me as a person and as an artist. I’ve moved around quite a lot in my adult life but also in my childhood – we had lived in 3 family homes in the north of England by my 16th birthday. At 18, I moved down to Cornwall for University and high-tailed it to London upon graduation. There followed the most transient period of my life up to that point – residing in numerous flats, house, apartments and squats and at one point moving 4 times in 6 months! Then of course I relocated to Australia. All this has affected my work in different ways, in terms of my workspaces within each dwelling and the kind of work I was able to create due to spatial / financial restrictions, the area I lived in, people whom I lived with, events that happened within and around each set of four walls, etc. I have spent a lot of time in preparation for this show reading studies on nostalgia, and indeed revisiting the era spent in each place and looking at what was going on culturally at the time and how this was infiltrating my world and affecting me. I decided to create one artwork for each dwelling I have lived in. The size of the artwork is informed by the period I lived there, for example, somewhere I lived for only a couple of months might be a small work (perhaps 25cm x 25cm) and a house I resided at for 7 years might be huge (1.5m x 1m). Each work features a rough grid template of the layout of the home itself, and when put together, the works form a timeline of my life thus far. I decided that the best reflection of constant change was to focus upon self-portraits – the series features more than 30 of them.

Q What was it like to be constantly on the move or always in a different home? Scary? Fun? Exciting?!

It is a constant process of change and evaluation. I generally manage to contain my life into a large suitcase, complete with a pack down of essential art materials, laptop and travelling scanner. I think however this minimal baggage encourages me to collect things on my travels – everything from old books to vintage clothing unique to my new location, to art materials and goodies which are hoarded back to my permanent home back in Aus on the farm. I am lucky that I have Gold frequent flyer status and can carry 45 kilo on long haul flights! I fluctuate between feeling a profound sense of freedom within my transient lifestyle to feeling quite alien, both in my home country of the UK and back in Australia – I feel I am neither 100% British nor Australian, as my accent, appearance and identity are sculpted between nations.

Q How did you remember all of the layouts of each home?

My father is a chartered surveyor back in the UK, so he was able to produce very detailed plans of our 3 family homes (right down to the location of the bidet and the airing cupboard in our 1st house!) The rest, I was aged 18 or older, so my memory, my housemates and Google maps have all helped inform me of the layouts along the way!

Q How would you describe your work?

A very well planned, carefully executed accumulation of chaotic colourful madness?

Q What is art to you?

I think art is outside of strict boundaries and definitions, but I do think more and more that for me, art needs to be more than just the simple, direct presentation or communication of an idea. The virtual presentation of an idea is to me, simply a piece of advertising or design.

Q What materials do you use?

The list is inexhaustive as I am always finding new things! In general apart from spraypaint, all of the paint I use is water based. Here is a list of current most commonly used materials:
Spraypaint (I prefer Australian Export, Plastikote Odds n’ ends and the cheaper stuff as it sputters and blobs better than the streamlined professional graffiti stuff)
Gouache
Acrylic
Acryl-Gouache (Turner and Holbein Acryla are my favourite)
Pilot G-Tec C pens from Japan, the best detailed drawing pens in the world, who currently sponsor me!
Markers, Paint Pens, Etc
Crayons
Collage materials, vintage adverts, tissue paper, plywood, moleskins, stickers, fabric, sequins, beads…. The list is endless

**** Bonus Questions ****

Q What is your dream project?

Illustration:
I would love to create a fashion illustration spread working with John Galliano for a major fashion magazine like Vogue, Harper’s, LOVE, etc
Art:
I would like to spend 3 months painting in Coney Island, NYC, which I’m hoping to do in 2014. 
Q What is the country/city you would most like to live in?

I think New York would be my ultimate, having visited it so often but never stayed long enough to feel like a New Yorker. But for now I am quite content floating between Australia and the UK and all the travels that happen in between!

Q Who are your favourite painters?

Not all of these are painters but artists in general: Keith Haring, Antoni Gaudi, Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Julie Verhoeven, Cary Kwok, Yoshitomo Nara, Aubrey Beardsley, Robert Crumb, Alan Moore, Antonio Lopez, Vaughan Bode…. And many more.

Q What natural talent would you most like to have been gifted with?

I wish I could play guitar… I have tried to learn both guitar and bass but have never had the time and energy outside of my artwork to dedicate to learning. I’d also quite like Rachel Nagy’s voice (of the band Detroit Cobras) to boot.

Q What is your favourite motto?

“Do or do not, there is no try.” (Yoda)
And
“There’s No Fate But What We Make.” (Sarah Connor, Terminator 2)