AFYM Artist Profile: Sarah Winter

I remember seeing Sarah's graduate show at QUT, which was a while ago now. I was amazed at how powerful her experiential work was, how the simplest things stirred the strongest feelings. The experience of seeing a single match light up a long winding path of matches within a split second, whilst being engulfed by pitch black, never left me. I still think about it often.

This artist is all about involving the audience even if it's a single person (first image; 1000 ways to say I miss you which was a maze piece) to whoever is willing to participate (second image; Piano Lessons; a piano was installed in a shop front window where piano lessons took place). You can be sure that Sarah will be inviting you into her intimate little cave at AFYM, you don't want to miss this!

1. Tell us a bit about what you do outside of your art?

I am what I guess you’d call a busy person. I teach and work as academic support at QUT. Besides that I am about to go back and finish my PhD. I am someone who is obsessed with hobbies. When I’m not doing my actual art practice or working I am silver smithing, tinkering, tending to my garden, playing ukulele or guitar, bushwalking and going for small adventures. I think most of my life is wrapped up in something creative so it is hard to be outside of it. I spend a lot of time with my partner who is a musician and a horticulturalist so the conversations are usually focused on art or plants.

2. What have you been up to recently?

I just got back from a residency in Iceland which was an amazing, enriching and grounding experience.

I’m currently doing a creative development with The Escapists on a project called Suburbia that is going to be really gorgeous and I am super excited about.

3. How would you describe your work?

Tactile, sensorial, personal, often task based and walking somewhere in between theatre and installation.

4. How did you get started?

In art in general? I think it was the fact that my dad would set up oil paints, paper and brushes and let me paint whatever I wanted for hours on end. The next 2 hours was spent with turps and a cloth trying to get all the paint out of my hair.

My practice morphed into installation about 3 years ago when my full time theatre collaborator moved overseas. My practice developed into a fascination with direct contact with audiences. Predominantly I am interested in who my audience are and what stories they have. Performative installation felt like the best medium to do this as it is interactive and in the hands of the audience.

5. What motivates you to create?

A combination of not wanting to be bored and a constant curiosity of most things in life.

6. Who are your influences?

That is a massive question. Andy Goldsworthy, Rune Gineriuseen, Ani Difranco, Tess Mallett, Lucas Stibbard, Magritte, my dad, my mum, Debbie and Ian, Julia Kent, Bill Henson, Alister Murray haha. There are too many. Maybe the more appropriate question is what are your influences? Old books, magic realism, my childhood, dreams and dreaming, strangers on buses, the changes between seasons, Land Art, gravity, memories and what we do as people in order to remember.

7. What do you find is the most exciting and rewarding aspect in your working process?

Seeing what people do in response to the work and what memories and stories are shared. I also find bump out really satisfying.

8. What’s next in terms of using different media/challenging yourself?

For this exhibition I am going to teach myself to screen print. I’m also allowing this work to be predominantly installation based rather than having a curated audience experience. Besides this exhibition I’m about to move into a studio and start experimenting more, which is really exciting.

9. Who is your dream mentor and why?

Andy Goldsworthy. I think. This is a hard question. Maybe Rune Gineriuseen. I love land artists and installation artists who work in outside spaces.

10. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I’m not sure and that really excites me. I have a few ideas of where I’d like to be but I’m keeping it open.

11. Sneaky hint about what you’re working on for us?

A tapestry of stories.

12. What was the most useful or weirdest advice your mother gave you?

Two things spring to mind.

1. Be daggy. This has been useful and has helped me to be comfortable in who I am.
2. If you put expensive tomatoes in with cheap ones they only charge you the cost of the cheap ones.

In all honesty though - I don’t know if my mother has given me advice that I call upon frequently. She has given me a lot of life skills that help me get by. When I was young we were really poor. I grew up in a shed in the Promised Lands in NSW. We grew all our own vegetables and got free milk from the dairy down the road. Life was hard but beautiful. I am really grateful that I grew up in such a way because it’s taught me useful skills in being self reliant and adaptable.

13. Do you have a website?

I’m building one as we speak so I’ll keep you posted. The domain is so check back in about a months time ☺

At the moment you can find my musings on my research blog Mellifluous –