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SARAH MUIRHEAD

I paint people and things about which there are often misconceptions but for which I feel a great deal of empathy. I’m drawn to things which have aged or been altered in some way. Most of my work is figurative, drawing from experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met in my search for interesting characters on the street and in bars. These tend to be strangers; brief encounters which usually pass by unmarked. I try to recount an ephemeral moment using a process which, by contrast, takes weeks concentrating on textures, patterns and fine details. I have been focusing on peripheral characters, quiet observers, people with whom I find some degree of understanding although this is unexpressed. Although I’m naturally drawn to faces, I reference details of derelict buildings, posters, graffiti and images of nature I have found or photographed. My work is fairly realistic but I want it to be painterly. I don’t want to make vacuous copies of photographs but to try to recount a moment of empathy between strangers. I want to show vulnerability and to suggest an intimate psychological interaction rather than an honorific or simplistic view of those I have met. I’m interested in the idea that beauty and squalor are seen as being mutually exclusive until their objects are presented in a different context.