Sarah Crowner

Sliced Black and Red (Insect), 2015

Sarah Crowner’s diverse practice ranges from paintings and ceramics to sculpture and theatre curtains. Her bold and colourful paintings and tile works incorporate forms found in architecture, nature, and in the history of twentieth-century art and design. 

Her stitched paintings are created by using an industrial sewing machine to sew painted and raw irregular panels of canvas together, simultaneously revealing the painting’s composition and construction. Sections are painted in saturated primary colours to imply a form, a presence, a possibility. The stitched seams remain visible, like plant veins or arteries, reflecting her interest in systems and patterns, production and reproduction, in culture and nature. At times the seams, and forms they suggest, recall hard-edged paintings of the 1960s, in others curved lines conjure biomorphic abstraction. She treats the past, the natural world and popular culture as a medium; zooming in, rotating, reversing, cropping, repeating, mirroring, shrinking and enlarging the familiar to engage the viewer, revealing connections between micro and macro, individual and context.   

In her ‘sliced’ paintings, Crowner deconstructs and reconstructs her own existing paintings, reconfiguring shapes, colours and contrasting textures. She uses a self-designed ‘curve machine’ to create arc templates on pattern paper for canvas to be cut from, before painting and stitching them to other raw canvas or linen segments. Her ‘monochrome’ paintings are created from canvas remnants that are the cast-offs from other compositions, stitched together with the sections and seams forming the surface and dynamic within the frame. The pattern and subtle variations in texture and hue of the fabric pieces imply architecture and create depth, whilst the velvety surface beckons touch. These soft canvases contrast with the glassy and crisp tiles she often exhibits them with. This deliberate relationship to the tactile, to craft and the artist’s performative engagement with her medium suggests a physical relationship to the image and speaks to the viewer of action and the potentiality of painting.   

In recent years she has exhibited her paintings in conjunction with ceramic tile murals and floor installations installed on elevated platforms in the gallery context, creating a bespoke, intimate environment and stage. Each individual stitched and painted fragment of canvas and each hand-crafted, hand-painted tile, (complete with surface irregularities), is a unique element, a world within a world, yet reliant upon its neighbour in order to contribute to a greater whole. Crowner embraces the idea of painting as object and her works embody the experience of architecture and space both within themselves and their display. Her work draws attention to the surrounding context, from the painted walls, brick patterns, concrete floor or plate glass windows. These dynamic three-dimensional abstractions seductively speak of connection, opposition, separation, hierarchy, transition and assimilation. 

Witty, playful and optimistic, Sarah Crowner’s investment in materials and use of colour as form deliberately seduce the viewer, evoking desire and reflecting her interest in how painting can engage the body and mind.