Sarah Lynch Interview
by Sharon Boothroyd
From the series Suspended Realities sarahlynchphotography.com
Sarah Lynch makes these exquisite ‘landscapes’ in order to “explore the temporary nature of our being, our lack of control and our futile attempts to define ourselves within it.” She painstakingly builds these little sculptures in her studio by hand and records them with her camera to create beautiful objects of balance, tension and structure. By using the least likely of materials (grapes, paper, wire, blades of grass and other tiny fruits) and exhibited as large pieces of art she distorts and confuses the nature of these everyday objects and gives them stature and presence.
So yes, they are photographs of art (the mini sculptures), records of a kind, but they are also photographic art at it’s best, taking something real and making it Other. The photographic print, in it’s large scale and compositional boundaries, takes us beyond the studio environment, removes its context and helps us see something new.
I can’t help but be impressed at how perfectly the objects hold together in such precarious positions. How long before the bubble bursts, the raspberry decays or the wire snaps and gravity gets the better of her physics-defying world? And then I think “They’re a bit like us really. How long before we give way?”
Sometimes I have dilemmas about what I’m doing, or not doing but then I see something and it reminds me.
Yesterday I saw an old man on the street selling his poetry on small handwritten pieces of paper, his own precious words of wisdom for just 2 Euro each. These are people saying look, listen, this is me telling you, this is it. You know? Then I know I want to be part of it; to be that person that stops people in their tracks and makes them stop and pause a while. Then I want to run to my camera and make something that is as beautiful, as fragile, and as transient as I feel.
Sarah (Extract from email to Mrs Everbum, July 07)
SB: How do you decide what material to use in your series? Do you have personal experiences that draw you to these objects or do you search for things that mirror the fragility you are portraying?
SL: I don’t go very far to find objects that deserve a second look. I try to have fun with the set ups. I enjoy it, playing with it, trying to catch a moment when all this magic collides. I’d like to think I could do it with any object but I do try to avoid overt cultural references. But it’s not about the objects themselves, however beautiful; it’s about the set up, the bits in between. The leaf tied into a circle is as much about what’s in the circle as it is about the circle itself. A bit like pointing to the moon. People are too busy looking at the finger to see the moon.
You say you want to make people stop and pause a while. Do you know of any times when your work was successful in that and how did that make you feel?
I have to admit that my goal of making people stop and pause for a while is a relatively new one, I used to say I wanted to save the world. If I go by my old benchmark I haven’t succeeded yet!
I know people lead busy, distracting lives and pausing for just a minute to contemplate my work is a compliment and hopefully a good thing. But how many people really connect to the work and take away something positive from it and are encouraged by it, who knows.
I suppose the real question is whether I think my work is successful in the greater sense, that’s a question I’ve toiled with for some time. How many of our grand thoughts are actually heard as we will them to be heard? Does it mean my work is in part a failure because someone hasn’t considered all that I was trying to convey when I created the work? I hope not, with so much self-importance and negativity in the world I hope a moment spent contemplating everyday objects as beautiful and fragile is, in a small part, a success. And if I have only succeeded in that, than that is no bad thing.
You are highlighting big existential questions in your work. Facing our own mortality and questioning how we fit into the big picture. I would have thought these things are quite taboo in today’s society. How have you found the response to your work considering the fact that you are raising difficult questions?
My work is just following my own questioning; you’ll have to tell me if my ideas are taboo! Whether it is or not hasn’t really concerned me. To me it’s important that work is real and honest. My questions are just that, my own questions, and while I think it’s a good thing to be influenced by the world around me I don’t pretend to be consciously following ideas. I think it’s an artist job to raise questions, and good questions quite often have difficult answers.
I suppose the worst response to all this is no response. I would hope that my explorations and expressions do resonate somewhere, even if my lofty ideas of making the world a better place, are too far off, at least acknowledging a shared belief with others can be a pretty powerful motivator.
You are showing the beauty of temporal existence and demonstrating a wonder at life that feels quite purposeful even in relation to a piece of crumpled paper or a grape or a blade of grass. Is there something that encourages you about the transience we all share and that you are trying to portray in your work?
I would like to think that my work does show importance and beauty in everything, be it objects, space or time. I hope it is a reminder for us to appreciate life so as not waste our short time being angry or hurtful. I think being reminded of our fragile states, both in the sense of our own mortality and the transient nature of our being, helps put our small selves into perspective. We should be marvelling at the constant movement of energy that we are part of; we shouldn’t be trying to divide, package and control it all.
Who is Mrs Everbum?!
A special person who keeps me in check!
Sarah is a British artist currently based in Geneva, Switzerland. Her work has been featured in important photography collections and publications such as Hotshoe International, Source, Jerwood Photography Awards and Portfolio. Her work was exhibited in the Klompching Gallery, New York as part of the group show Splash in 2011 and previously in a solo show of her series Suspended Realities. She remains committed to the quality and progress of her work as she concentrates on her new series, coming soon.