Building upon my last exhibition at Gow Langsford Gallery in 2014, I continue to develop my interest in the complexities of visual learning. In Butterfly Effect I combine influences from observing my children with languages of painting. Familiar images such as children’s stickers, striped electrical tape and geometric shaped toys, get mixed up with the carefully circumscribed world of the abstract.
I have been influenced by watching my two young sons create visual imagery, their relationship to materials and their immediacy in image making. I am particularly interested to see how my four year old has developed through a range of mark making stages to now adding aspects of representation to his drawings. What I find fascination is that his mark making is not hierarchical; an abstract mark has a much importance as a person or as a dragon’s tail
Justin Paton in an early essay on my work draws attention to the fact that “Hughes belongs to a generation of kids who plastered their bed-heads and cupboard doors with stickers and who covered their exercise books with stick on floral Kon-Tak”[i]. I feel in a way that I am coming full circle, now seeing my own children engaging with the latest sticker offerings.
The imagery in my new works may appear eclectic, but is drawn from personal histories reaching back in time as well as from the present. My studio contains boxes of materials gathered on art residencies and international travel that I have dug into. A reoccurring element in this exhibition is a green and yellow electrical tape that is painted (as well as all my imagery) onto the paintings, a Trompe-l’oeil technique that acknowledges cubism and the roots of collage. I use it to describe space and at times as a figurative device.
My children peel the back of coloured tape with glee, sticking and overlapping using whatever is at hand. This approach reminded me of my own magpie tendencies, I found this tape at Possling a hardware store in Berlin for ‘later use’. In these works I draw upon memory and experiences building images which suggest recognition but that are open for interpretation.
The negative shapes around the stickers or cut outs are as important for me as the positive forms and I combine them together in these new paintings to create curious combinations and diverse dialogues. These juxtapositions are echoed in my choice of painting methods, washes of dye meet transparent spray, overlapped with thick opaque brushstroke; carefully considered the painted layers also add to the fragmented discourse.
Collage has been a constant in my practice usually as a way to generate images. My new paintings are not collages but they take the immediacy of the medium to create compositions. Then there is the process of painting; inky washes met sharp edges that nudge up against droplets of spray that glide under impasto brush mark… a collaged approach.[ii]
For me there is a joy in these new works a lightness of touch (literally from the materials as well as from the way imagery intersects) but as with all my work there is an undelaying current of research and conceptual rigour.
Sara Hughes, October 2016
[i]Justin Paton, Warpspeed, P. 9, Pub. The Hocken Library, 2004
[ii] All quotes from the artist, 2016