Music & Visions – projects selected by Giovanni Papalia + ThePT
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I Don’t Mind, third Hitmen single, WEA, 1981.
The Hitmen are an Australian hard rock band formed in November 1977 by long-term members, Johnny Kannis on lead vocals and Chris Masuak on lead guitar as Johnny and the Hitmen. The group went through numerous line up changes in its first run from 1977 to 1984. They regrouped under a new name, Hitmen DTK, between 1989 and 1992. They have issued three studio albums, Hitmen (July 1981), It Is What It Is (November 1982) and Moronic Inferno (November 1991). The Hitmen reformed in 2007; Masuak left in 2015.
Sarah graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Illustration in 2002 from Falmouth College of Arts, Cornwall, UK. She won the Pentland Prize for Fine Art, Presented by Wayne Hemmingway of Red or Dead, that same year, and was commissioned to create 2 giant paintings based on the retro ski and tennis origins of the Ellesse sportswear brand, for their marketing HQ.
She spent the next 4 years in London working in fashion, illustration and design in-house, first as an illustrator and graphic designer at Yellowdoor, the fashion marketing company run by Mary Portas (of TV’s Mary Queen of Shops). Here she created designs for Thomas Pink, Sussan, Sportsgirl, Boden and Clarks Shoes, and was commissioned to create 4 large scale paintings entirely in tones of white for the launch event of the Clarks Pure range.
During this period Sarah worked as a styling assistant on an issue of Pop magazine under infamous stylist Katie Grand, also helping out at The Face magazine next door. She completed a 7-month print design internship at Stella McCartney assisting in the creation of designs for fabric print and t-shirts, and conducting extensive design research for collections. A commission followed to decorate the walls of the shoe room of Stella’s Bruton Street shop, which opened in London in 2003. She was then offered a placement in couture embroidery for John Galliano at Dior in Paris, turning it down to setup her own market stall, selling her printed and hand painted t-shirt designs in Camden Town.
Since then, she has built a career as a freelance artist and illustrator. Her extensive Illustration client list includes The Telegraph and The Times (UK), The Miami Herald, The Globe and Mail (Toronto), The Wall St Journal, Philadelphia Magazine, The Portland Mercury, Smithsonian Mag, Clarks Shoes, Ellesse, Diesel, La Perla, Tezenis, Kings of Neon, Yellow Rat Bastard, Readers Digest, Hachette Children’s, Scholastic Books, Compendium Inc, The London Magazine, Golf World, American Lawyer Magazine, Nuts Magazine, The British Fashion Council, Perth Fashion Festival, Garnier Paris, MAC Cosmetics, IKEA, OXO, Dove Soaps, Knorr Soups, St George Bank, Ernst & Julio Gallo, Nicolas Wines, Monoprix, Ford Germany, Delta Airlines, Continental Airlines, US Airways, Trader Joe’s, Die Roten Punkte, Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls.
Sarah began exhibiting her work during her time in the London squatting scene in the early noughties, joining together with a creative underbelly of artists and performers and seizing the opportunity of free public space and utilizing it for 1 night only shows. She has since established herself as an international artist, exhibiting work in London, Paris, Portland, New York, Adelaide and Melbourne. She relocated from the UK to Australia in 2006, exhibiting her 1st solo exhibition “Bodies” at The McCulloch Gallery in 2007.
Her 2nd solo exhibition, “50 Bucks Bring On The Sluts” featured Australia’s 1st Art Vending Machine, donated by Pepsi Cola, which Sarah adorned with paintings from vintage Pepsi commercials, and had adjusted to vend artworks in Pepsi bottles at $50 a pop. Sarah created almost 500 works for the exhibition; all inspired by her 1968-1982 Playboy and Penthouse collection, and 50s Cult Gay Americana. The collection was made into 2 limited edition packs of playing cards, which rapidly sold out.
In 2008, Sarah made live drawings of Australian musician Nick Cave at his “In Conversation” sessions at The Arts Centre, Melbourne. Many of the resulting works were sold, several going into collections. In 2009, she took part in a group show with 50 Australian artists to customize a bottle of Belvedere Vodka, and was shortlisted for an award.
Belvedere purchased the bottle. Later that year she was presented in a group exhibition of emerging artists at the prestigious Metro Gallery in Melbourne. Sarah’s 3rd solo exhibition; “YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU EAT”, was a part of L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival Cultural Events Program 2010, and featured in The Adelaide Fringe 2010, for which it was nominated for an award. The show hailed a celebrated return to her roots in the fashion industry; seeing wearable art collaborations with 6 emerging fashion designers, a series of BMI (Body Mass Index) original art badges, and a collection of limited edition digital print silk scarves.
In 2011, Sarah presented her 4th solo show; “I Dream In Celluloid” – a study in her obsession with film and how this affects her nightly dreamings. Sarah kept a dream sketchbook in which the contents of her dreams were visually recorded. She received a RADF grant from The Gold Coast City Council to create a giant digitally printed and embroidered quilt cover showcasing her dream sketches, sewn by Amy Lane, and a short stop-motion animation detailing the creation of one of the works, animated by Shell Weiss. The exhibition toured Gold Coast, Melbourne, London and Ottawa. She also created 3 mini series: “An Homage To Frida Kahlo”, “birth.art” and “Unsung Heroes”, which were exhibited in various Australian cities including Melbourne, Gold Coast and Broken Hill.
In 2012, Sarah was invited to exhibit work at Pick Me Up 2012 Graphic Arts Fair at Somerset House, London. She created a capsule clothing collection with Amy Lane, a series of 6-colour hand screen printed tshirts with Straight Jacket Press, Newcastle, and created Live Portraits of exhibition visitors on site. In July 2012, Sarah was shortlisted among 25 artists for the prestigious Metro Art Award in Melbourne, Australia.
Her 5th solo show “All Of The Places That I have Lived” was shown at 19 Karen, Gold Coast, Australia in 2013, and featured 30+ self portraits contained within the framework of each dwelling she has inhabited, having moved house more than 17 times across 2 continents. In summer 2013, Sarah exhibited her first solo show in Paris, at Galerie Claude-Samuel, Viaduc Des Arts, entitled: “Rainbowspective”.
In February 2014, she exhibited at the inaugural Supergraph Graphic Arts Fair at The Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Australia, and will do so again in 2015. In summer 2014, Sarah completed a 3-month artist residency in Coney Island, NY, USA, which is informing an ongoing body of work based around this location. Sarah is currently working on a series of Painted Polaroids from Coney Island, which will be launched at Supergraph 2015, along with a Coney Island inspired capsule collection of silk clothing digitally printed with Sarah’s art. She recently illustrated Wonder Woman for Smithsonian Mag, as well as completing a commission for Paul’s Daughter, her favourite place of inspiration in Coney Island.
The subject of body image is a recurrent issue within Sarah’s work, as are gender themes and subcultures, and the politics and perversities of popular culture, and her place within her cultural landscape. She counts 60s American literature, John Waters, cult film, Japan, rock music, decaying urban typography, and Coney Island as her inspirations, and divides her time between a picturesque farm in Queensland and her family home in The UK, with her travels frequently taking her back to The USA, through Europe and Asia.
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