22 September 2021
Featured in Deptford X: 2018, 2021
What was your project at the Deptford X Festival?
“Day 59” was at BadgerBadger on Deptford High Street. I showed pages from my lockdown diary which were made using the cyanotype sunprinting technique. I also showed hand-painted photos of Plague Doctors. If you were eagle-eyed, you might have spotted an installation on the roof visible from the train platform which explored the new reality. A highlight was an event I staged on Zoom, including a script I wrote to explore the history of plagues and an appearance by the Plague Doctor of Lewisham. I love Deptford X as its an opportunity to ‘play’ with ideas on an unsuspecting public.
Describe your studio or workspace.
I now have a small room in an ex-tax office inside a tower block in Woolwich. Its going to be made into flats so I don’t have it for long. Its a bit grotty on the outside, but I appreciate the grunge aesthetic, and its cheap. I’m very happy to ‘recycle’ an unused building, and I am hoping that the Woolwich Regeneration programme will benefit artists like me who are investing in the area. I’m making a darkroom inside from old equipment that I have been given, and bits I find in skips and on Ebay. I use an empty floor for workshops. I also work from home in Greenwich, but things were getting impossible when the whole household starting working from home since lockdown and continue to do so. I was always getting paint on the cat etc.
What is inspiring you at the moment?
My latest series is “Mermaids on the Thames” as part of the Thames Festival. I literally imagine these mermaids are coming ashore bedraggled in plastic packaging, they are warning us about the sea levels rising that will cause the Thames to flood. I have photographed several mermaids along the Thames between Deptford and Woolwich. They aren’t visible to the naked eye, but you can hear them, and they are revealed in the Cyanotype printing process which focusses on UV light. It’s a historic process, and rather magical.
Other than that I am constantly seeking answers from Nature and Quantum Physics – these things dominate my thoughts and research, and will trickle through into new work.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I’m a night owl. I’m often coating paper and writing ideas at night. My sleep is often disturbed by waking up and writing songs! So in the morning I limp to my coffee machine, and then I will head off with a camera, or to my studio. To be honest at least half of my time as an artist is spent marketing and seeking opportunities for exhibitions. There isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not networking or having some community involvement too. I see no point in locking myself away and working in a vacuum. I’m increasingly being asked to write for photo magazines, and websites and I am enjoying that. I also work as an artist mentor via Zoom which is rewarding. In the evenings I am sometimes rehearsing or performing with my band Zara . I don’t like to stand still. I am usually multi-tasking, so I might be painting while dictating into my phone, or singing in the darkroom. The cyanotype season is drawing to an end now, due to lack of sun, but whenever I can I am dashing out to find a sunny patch to expose my prints. You could say I am a crazy artist.
If Tate called you tomorrow and invited you to make work for the Turbine Hall, what would it be?
I’ve always been interested in the overlap between Sound/Music and Light/Colour. I would make a huge immersive work exploring that. Synaesthesia and Science. I couldn’t possibly predict what it would be, as I work in an experimental fashion. It would be on the subject of Climate Change and the possible bleak future we face. It would be a statement against the happy and positive art we are all encouraged to produce in this Post-Covid world.
Plug your next show/event! Or what words of support or encouragement would you like to share with your fellow artists?
I’ve got a Cyanotype Workshop on Saturday 25th September 2021 which is World Cyanotype Day! We’ll be using this photo technique to make prints, with daylight, onto paper and fabric. I will also show participants how to tone the prints with botanical extracts and tea and coffee. The last workshop I did here was huge fun and it was just great for people to be able to meet in person again! No experience necessary, booking: www.sarahgarrod.co.uk/totallythames