Tom Glover in conversation with Sarah Taylor Silverwood
Language and drawing spring from the same starting point. They evolve together and exist alongside one another. They are a recognition that we are here, that we can communicate, that we are significant. Language and drawing are the foundations upon which the art of Sarah Taylor Silverwood rests. We make marks, we were here, these marks have been learnt through our experiences, through the people we surround ourselves with, our community and how we define it. This language is constantly evolving, never resting, as we find new ways to see our world and our place within it. Her work ‘F.U.Vessels’ plays with this notion; two small ceramic heads, covered in pastel shades, with a silent animated mouth saying…
What’s it saying?
You find yourself copying the moving lips
mimicking each hand-drawn inflection
f … uck … y . o. u ?
The heads become a vessel for language to travel to the viewer, the art lies in the space between its mouthing lips and your act of silent profanity.
This heightened interest in language and how it navigates our world is fuelled by the artist’s background in studying English at the University of Birmingham many moons ago. This brings a subtlety and substance behind the pastel shades and squiggly lines that constitute her ceramic sculpture. The works currently on show (although F.U. Vessels is on show until literally today) are playful and beautiful, and work equally on the largest scale and the smallest. Her show ‘Daphne’ at the New Art Gallery Walsall is cavernous, a joy to be in and look at, to forget the world outside. It is engaging, intriguing, meditative, and on until May.
Animation is central to her work. Combining language and drawing, animated television and film has become part of our cultural landscape, part of our world. Those squiggly lines are taken from ‘animation sheets’ of your favourite cartoons, they are the rules that define how the characters are drawn and how they should always look. In turn, these define how we see what’s around us, they become points of comparison to things in the ‘real’ world, how we understand our environment. The music within ‘Daphne’ samples a slowed down recording of Wile E Coyote, it is both ambient and familiar, calming and relaxing. Looney Tunes provides the backing to a hand-drawn retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Daphne and Apollo, told through two thousand frames on a loop on the face of the monolithic painted sculpture. This mix of influences, of popular cartoon and storied mythology, is illustrative of what comprises our language today, constantly evolving as new ways of storytelling are created and celebrated.
Sarah Taylor Silverwood has created playful, intriguing, substantive art that investigates our language and our world through pushing drawing as far as possible.