Readymades and found objects.
Oh the beauty of manipulating what has already been created. Through depicting the found and using it as a style, it has become its own form of artwork in today’s society. Artists from Marcel Duchamp to John Stezaker have taken their own adaptation on existing objects. You’d have definitely heard of the Fountain, a renowned icon of 21st century art.
A found piece could be manipulated in ways that give a lease of life to something new, or a reference to the existing piece. Sarah Dimech practices her own style of illustration through the use of old photos (personal and found), drawings and books. After having seen Sarah’s work at her LCC Medium Rare exhibition a while back I thought it’d be a good idea to chat a little more about her work.
Nicola Manuel: Hello Sarah! Congratulations on exhibiting your work along with fellow students in Brick Lane. How did it feel to be exhibiting in that location?
Sarah Dimech: Hello!
Cheers, it was pretty exciting. The Truman Brewery was a great location for the Medium Rare show, which added a bit of pressure but in a good way. It didn’t come without its hiccups though!
NM: What were the pieces you exhibited and the main reasons for showing them?
SD: The pieces I exhibited were three paper cuts for a project about Imaginary Worlds. I had collected, drawn, collaged, photographed but it just developed that a paper cut was the best way that I could create a ‘world’ with everything I had. I wanted to show them because it was the first project I completed.
NM: As I introduced you through the means of found objects it would be silly to avoid that subject. What is it about found objects that you find so appealing? Have you been working with them for very long?
SD: I have always been surrounded by objects that have had a life that is longer than mine. When I work with found photos, I enjoy the physicality of them and their history, their soul and their story. To me it has more power. I got into collage and using found ephemera at college, so that’s about 6 years ago.
NM: What are the pros and cons with using found imagery and what is it you look for when sourcing your imagery?
SD: Pros: I can work with them using my hands, the physicality, history and different textures. These are all really important to my working practice. The time-factored nature of the processes I use blends well with the histories of the objects. It’s also great to be conscious of limited resources, so by creating a new piece of art out of what has been discarded by someone else, is a nice thought.
Cons: There are also times when you are scared to use an image because you are attached to it. Although, this becomes not such a big deal when your collection grows and you produce more work. There are also times when you don’t have an image you had in mind, you have to work with what’s in front of you.
I don’t stop at just imagery when looking for ephemera; you never know when or where inspiration will come from. Paper is my favourite thing. My collection started around 10 when my dads friend gave me two full books of stamps, I don’t know why he thought I would like them. Then it grew, I collected photos, buttons, magazines, maps, more stamps, fabric, envelopes, books… anything that caught my eye with their colours or layout, that kind of thing. I still have around 50 job application letters sent by the same woman that I have no idea how I will use, but they are great and will come in handy in the future.
I remember being so excited that I started rifling through my parents and grandparents possessions looking for bits and pieces to claim as my own. Sometimes the thrill of buying 2000 odd photos for a tenner over rides the thought that comes later of how you will sort, store and use them all.
NM: Collage work can essentially be quite simplistic through the use of only a couple of found images, or even solely one alone. What does the meaning behind using found imagery mean to you and what does the meaning behind your work consist of?
SD: Our imaginations are filled with ‘already-existing’ things and images, so it is actually quite appropriate to use ephemera, recombining them as the imagination does naturally.
A lot of my work involves the idea of memory and history whether it be in nature, stories (both individual or collective) or through traditional processes.
In ancient Indian thought there is the idea that ‘everything already exists’, thus nothing can be created or invented, just rediscovered – this is what I do.
I think my work also shows a glimpse of a future for our own redundant image, buried in digital archives.
NM: Who are your main influences within the creative world?
SD: Oh that old favourite question, I could write a enormous list of all the artists I admire, love and who inspire me. So to pick a few off the top of my head, there are of course there are the classics like Schwitters and Rauschenberg who were a large influence in my school days. And then there are tattoo artists, writers, directors, photographers, illustrators and image-makers like… Duke Riley, Kim Rense, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Hemingway, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, John Stezaker, Charles Burns, Damian and Delaine Lebas, Natasha Bowdoin, Beatrice Coron, Dusty Signs, Andy Altmann, Mark Lazenby, Jessica Dance, Christian Northeast, Adolf Wolfli.
There are so many more, however I also think my family, who have so many great stories, experiences and interests inspire me as well as my talented friends of course.
NM: What are you working on at the moment? Any exciting plans for the few months ahead?
SD: At the moment I am working my final project. I wanted to end with something I would really enjoy so I took a traditional enamel sign painting class, which is something I have wanted to do for ages. So I’m just having fun drawing and painting letter forms in my last couple of weeks of university.
Also preparing for the launch and exhibition for the Young’s Type Collective publication, as well as thinking about how to make a killer portfolio for hand-in.
NM: If you were to have created one piece of artwork already made, which would it be and why?
SD: The Sistine chapel. The skill, scale and time it took to create a work of art like that astounds me.
Quick round questions! If I were to say the following words to you, you’d say which word in response?
“Everything already exists’, thus nothing can be created or invented, just rediscovered.”
You could even send a cheeky email to say hello. She’s a lovely girl!