Sunday, 20 December 2009

GHost II

curated by Sarah Sparkes and Ricarda Vidal

Photogragh taken at St John on Bethnal Green by Sarah Sparkes 2009

Friday 18th December 6pm - 10pm
Screenings commence at 7.30pm
at St John’s Church on Bethnal Green 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA (opposite Bethnal Green tube)

Join us for the Return of GHost!A night of artist films, performances and moving image interventions to celebrate the darkest days of the season and to welcome in the ghosts that inhabit them. With moving image installations around the foyer and belfry and a screening of artist films on a movie-sized screen in the nave. Plus, as a finale a screening of Mario Bava's 1963 classic, 'I tre volti della paura: La goccia d'acqua’

And, of course, Mulled wine and minced pies!

With (in no particular order): Glenn Church, JoWonder, Geraldine Swayne, Daisy Delaney, Sinead Wheeler, Magnus Irving, Sarah Doyle, Tessa Garland, Lisa Fielding Smith, Gail Burton, Rebecca Feiner, Sam Treadaway, Katja Tukiainen, Sarah Breen Lovett, Calum F Kerr, Anne Charlotte Morgenstein, Andrew Graves-Johnston, Mason Stone, Richard Mansfield, Fernando Cestari, Mikey Georgeson, Reverand Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly, Geoff and the Daughters of Moroni, Miyuki Kasahara, Jo David, Julian Wakeling, Derek Jordan, and David Buckley on the ORGAN

Visit our website for more info:

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With thanks to St John’s Church on Bethnal Green, the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies (University of London), Betting on Shorts, Paul Dillon, Jonathon McKay, Cosimo Trisolini and Intellect Books.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Dissolving Cube

Thursday 26th November 4 – 8pm
Ends Decemeber 6th 6pm
at, The Portman Gallery, Morpeth School, Bethnal Green

"Stainless" hand painted wall paper by sarah Sparkes 2009

I made hand painted wall paper, using a one inch decorating brush to creat a repeat motiff.

The Dissolving Cube presents work which corrupts the boundaries between object, word, performance, sound, the viewer and the viewed. The work includes visual, poetic and sound art forms which blend together to dissolve artificial boundaries between separate art works.

The show will pose questions concerning art's purpose. The work will interact with the audience of the school and local area. Several artists will be working with students to produce work for the show.
The cube will mutate, dissolve and reach out down Portman Place, beyond Globe road from four different zones. The artists will install their own work and negotiate the form which each zone takes.

Antonio Cabrera, Naomi St Clair-Clarke, Andrew Cooper, David Collins, Shireen Darabi, Daisy Delaney, Sarah Doyle, Charlie Fox, Mikey Georgeson, Emma Hart, Heike Kelter, Ryo Ikeshiro, Miyuki Kasahara, Simon Katan, Dean Kenning, René Luckhardt, Mark Mc Gowan, Hassan Najmi, Laura Oldfield Ford, Paul Sakoilsky, Kristian Sakulku, Sarah Sparkes, Thump & Fiend, Raymond Yuenfai Vuong,
Curated by Andrew Cooper

Friday, 30 October 2009

Deserters residency


I was artist in residence at a deserted comunity centre in Nunhead. The centre was abandoned due to an outbreak of legionaires disease. Many items were left behind and I used these as well as some built interventions to create 'Deserters' for Nunhead Arts Week

DESERTERS Nunhead Community Centre
56 Nunhead Lane SE15 - Tel: 07906 206 166
Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th 12-6pm

Artist Sarah Sparkes responds to the absence of community at the Nunhead community Centre.

I hope you can join us at Nunhead Community Centre this coming weekend. I've been artist in residence there for the past week and have been making work on site along with several other artists whom I've invited to collaborate with me on the project.
The centre was closed down because of an alleged contamination with legionnaires' disease and there is a feeling of sudden abandonment in the building, with the ghosts of the old community still very much in residence. The work, made on site, is a direct response to this feeling and much of it incorporates objects found at the abandoned centre.

more about the residency here:

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Fate & Freewill

FATE AND FREEWILL Contemporary Art Space, California, USA
Curated by David Leapman

'For What We Are About To Receive' Sarah Sparkes 2009, mixed media

Contemporary Art Space announces Fate and Freewill, an exhibition of UK and USA artists, with text written by Martin Holman.Private View opening October 17, 2009, 6:30 – 9:00 pm.

"There’s a work by the British artist Sarah Sparkes that raises the spectre of predestination, and (involuntarily) of Private Frazer’s portentous thousand-yard stare. A lace-rimmed, delicately-worked place mat is embroidered in gothic script with the omen “We are all doomed.” And, for good measure and compositional balance, the phrase is repeated.Only that Sparkes mixes the dark with the light. The mat is actually a plastic imitation, dyestamped in a factory, and the words are painted. It imitates the sort of domestic embellishment thought “proper” since Victorian times to protect furniture valued or cherished on account of its cost or provenance from spills and marks. What its painted incantation proclaims its decoration tries to inhibit. Handcraft to ward off, to “daintify” the inevitable into a familiar old saw, like one traded half in jest— “if the wind changes you’ll stay like that”. We know the wind will not change us irrevocably: by mouthing the warning, we give destiny the slip.Yet there it is, projected with modest means, an artwork that illuminates the “big question”: the paradox of fate and free will. The force within this deceptively simple work is its arresting tension. Sparkes’s For what we are about to receive invokes the table graces that offer thanks to God. It interrogates the evolution of prayer into an insurance policy that acknowledges that His grace rules. But are we okay with that?" (From Who’s in charge here? A new essay by Martin Holman Martin Holman for Fage and Freewill)

FATE AND FREEWILL Contemporary Art Space announces Fate and Freewill, an exhibition of UK and USA artists, with text written by Martin Holman.Private View opening October 17, 2009, 6:30 – 9:00 pm.Contemporary Art Space is a nontraditional venue for art in Riverside, CA. This will be the second show at CAS following David Leapman’s solo show Whispering Sprinkles in September 2008. Fate and Freewill showcases young and established artists from the UK and USA:

Lee Tusman, Sarah Sparkes, Hannah Schwadron, James Reilly, Danny Rolph, David Leapman, Stuart Elliot, Daniel Sturgis, and Jessica Snow. The exhibit features 4 West Coast US artists and 5 British artists in a range of media, including performance art, painting, installation, and fabric art.The theme of the exhibition is inspired by the eternal question of whether human action is a result of fate or freewill. From a philosophical point of view, there’s no scientific proof whether an action has been made by fate or freewill despite centuries of dispute by philosophers and religious scholars. The artists in the exhibit explore this duality and begin to ponder the implications of the question.Fate and Freewill opens October 17 and remains open by appointment until November 14.

For more information on the exhibit and artists, visit For more information, contact Artist and Curator David Leapman.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Summers Lease

E M M A - H I L L - F I N E - A R T E A G L E - G A L L E R Y

Sarah Sparkes 'Shopper' 1998 oil on board

159 Farringdon RoadLondon EC1R 3ALTel: + 44 (0) 20 7833 2674
SUMMER’S LEASE-Nick Carrick, Tom Hammick, Sarah Sparkes, Philippa Sutherland, Amanda Vesey
PV 22nd July 6.30 - 8.30pm

The Eagle Gallery’s summer exhibition brings together five artists from different generations whose work is concerned with thought and memory.Nick Carrick’s paintings can often read as after-images, depicting the faded structures of fairground carousels and empty promenades, whose visitors have long departed. The images are loosely suggested, hovering between figurative associations and gestural marks held within fluid washes of primer.Tom Hammick’s paintings begin with what is local and known – a group of children standing in front of a holiday shack or a crescent at dusk. Whether celebrating moments of remembered intimacy or the isolation of man in the landscape, they speak with authentic feeling.
Sarah Sparkes says of her work that she paints ‘about returning, returning as an observer to places imprinted within the memory’. Her small-scale paintings on board combine illusory passages with structures (integral to the remembered scene) left as primed ground. These highly ambiguous areas give the paintings a quality of incorporating past and present.
Philippa Sutherland works both in film and paint and her recent canvases have a curious stasis. The subject matter is less the physical appearance of a real environment, than a projection of an interior world. Her images of mountains and rural retreats are depicted from a distance as if captured through a camera lens and held at a particular moment in time.Amanda Vesey’s images of ordinary moments have a poignancy that comes from close observation. People are shown walking their dogs or in the reveries of weekend pursuits but their fragility is sometimes hinted at. A landscape of yew trees and tents is overshadowed by the mass of a great mountain – it’s scale quite at odds with the temporary human dwellings.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


A show by Sarah Sparkes

Crimes Town 110 church streetLondon N16 OJX

Private view Friday October 30th 2009 6-9pm October 31st - December 6th 2009

'Never Afraid', this maxim crops up repeatedly in Sarah Sparkes’s work and in fact, repetition itself, as a magical incantation or as ornamentation within the domestic environment, is a recurring theme throughout this exhibition. The artists varied use of materials, from painting, hand made wallpapers, adapted found materials and optical illusions, are linked by their implied underlying narrative. This is a reflection of Sparkes interest in what she refers to as 'domestic archaeology', a kind of 'finds processing’ in which fragmentary evidence is pieced together to shape a mythology from what is formless and unknown.

For more information, visit Crimes Town.


Sarah Sparkes at Crimes Town Gallery November 16, 2009by: Kate Weir for Spoonfed
... at the private view of Sarah Sparkes' Never Afraid show at Crimes Town gallery, patrons faced an altogether longer-lasting danger – that of being cursed for life.
Taking as her inspiration notions of superstition, the gender bias surrounding witchcraft and the general public's lust for free stuff, Sparkes created a 'cursed' film and produced 'cursed' artworks, which were given away for free to willing patrons. Artworks such as Roman Way and Photographers' House, are found paintings of forest landscapes and chocolate-box thatched cottages, adorned with Sparkes' 'Never Afraid' incantation and given a sinister psychological makeover with the addition of an unbreakable lifelong curse by Sparkes herself, no self-professed witch, but playing to the notion of women as supernatural harpies and artists as all-round mystifying folk to get her curse on.
The works are part of a larger exhibition which juxtaposes the safety and comfort of home (the gallery set up includes some of Sparkes' relatives' furniture), with the foreboding of omnipresent danger, stemmed only by the superstitious and misguided faith in talismans and incantations. Customised wallpaper featuring Sparkes' haunted cabin motif and a cosy living room setup is disrupted by a coffin nailed to the wall. Viewers have to take a quivering step over the threshold of death to view an infinity box through the coffin's peep hole. It shames me as a critic to admit that I haven't personally viewed the cursed film, or even succumbed to free artwork.
A proclivity for knocking on wood and with Giovanni Bragolin's creepy, flame-retardant, and reportedly cursed child paintings in the back of my mind, the primal fear of the unknowable, and well, cowardliness has overtaken my journalistic integrity. Lame perhaps, but also part of Sparkes' intention, to question why we cling to these superstitions in the face of logic. It's a brave move to make your collectors jump through such hoops, but ultimately the object takes on a legacy of its own, much like Dario Robleto's bone and Electric Voice Phenomena sculptures, and makes it that much more desirable; and that much more irksome for us scaredy cats.

Thursday, 25 June 2009



I was commisssioned to make work to adorn the dinner tables of the Shortness Event at Tate Modern. I placed hand-painted table runners, painted with quotes on shortness and lying on too small, short life table clothes. Nicolas Parsons ate his dinner off of 'A sandwich short of a picnic' and the curators were reminded that, 'We are all Doomed'
14.00–17.00 symposium
18.00–21.30 dinner in the East Room

In short, this event brings together practitioners and theoreticians of the humanities, arts and sciences to extol or berate, to discuss, explore and explain shortness in all its spatial and temporal manifestations. Rather than a conventional academic conference, Shortness is an art event in its own right, aiming to create a multidisciplinary and multisensory experience. Shortness tackles topics ranging from aphorisms, txt msgs and short attention spans to nanophilology, sampling, ephemeral relationships, punch lines, short narratives and other short-lived entities and phenomena (insects and fashion).

The short conference will take place at Tate Modern’s Starr Auditorium and will last from 14.00 to 17.00. It will be followed by a long performative dinner in Tate Modern’s East Room, where guests will be served food for the palate as well as for eyes, ears and minds in the form of artists’ interventions and performances, film screenings and presentations.

Conference speakers:Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky (composer, multimedia artist and writer) on samplingLia and Dan Perjovschi (artists) on ephemerality, punch lines and archivingSadie Plant (author and philosopher) on texts, tweets, and other short messagesTom Shakespeare (bioethicist and sociologist) on aphorismsConference discussion will be chaired by Steven Connor (Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck College and Academic Director of the London Consortium)Dinner speeches and interventions by:Jonathan Allen (visual artist and writer)Colleen Becker (flash fiction writer)Matthew Steven Carlos (Zen monk and professor of philosophy),Steven Connor (Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Birkbeck College, and Academic Director of the London Consortium)Natasha Degen (PhD candidate and a Gates Scholar at Cambridge)Mikhail Karikis, (sound artist)Alice McCabe (artist)Jon Meyer (consultant, artist and Computer scientist)Anna Marie Roos (Historian of early modern science and medicine and research associate at the Wellcome Unit, University of Oxford)Sarah Sparkes, (artist and curator)Clare Wigfall (short story writer)James Wilkes (poet and PhD candidate at the London Consortium)Julia Wilson (lecturer in performance at the University of Salford and a freelance performer/devisor) and Niki Woods (artist and lecturer in performance at the University of Salford).

The compère for the dinner will be Nicholas Parsons.

Organised by Tate Modern Public Programmes in collaboration with Irini Marinaki and Konstantinos Stefanis (London Consortium) and Ricarda Vidal (Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advenced Study, Univeristy of London )

Supported by The London Consortium with additional help from LCACETate Modern Starr Auditorium£15 (£10 concessions), booking required£50 (£45 concessions) for dinner and conferenceFor tickets book onlineor call 020 7887 8888.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

House of Fairy Tales

Sarah Sparkes as Lady Never Afraid - bad luck to you if you listen to her stories.

Friday 22 May 2009, 12.00–18.00Saturday 23 May 2009, 12.00–18.00Sunday 24 May 2009, 12.00–18.00Monday 25 May 2009, 12.00–18.00
Take part in a series of workshops and activities for families and people of all ages as House of Fairy Tales take residency outside Tate Modern by the riverside. Make, do, explore and perform, whilst exploring themes and ideas generated by Arte Povera. Join in the exploration of material and process through activities such as sewing, drawing and sculpture; enter a witch’s gingerbread house and make crazy characters; make and play unusual instruments; explore silhouettes and shadow puppets; read all about Arte Povera and fairy tales in a travelling horsebox library called Pegasus; learn to dance around a maypole, in this unique celebration of homemade culture as an antidote to commercialism and an unmissable visual and aural feast. The House of Fairy Tales is a non profit production company, set up in 2007 by artists Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis to produce large and small scale, national and local events celebrating and promoting creative education. They work with an expanding network of visual artists, theatre performers, musicians, as well as creative mathematicians, inventors, engineers and scientists to help equip the next generation with the imagination needed for their future on the planet. They work in public spaces and in partnership with other institutions in order to reach a wide range of groups, cultures and abilities.

Friday, 1 May 2009

MAY DAY: THE DARK TIMES (Editor’s Choice≠1)

'You are here' by Sarah Sparkes
coffin built to fit the artists and infinity box on trestel legs, 2006
Curated by Paul Sakoilsky, editor of The Dark Times
45 Robertson Street Hastings East Sussex TN34 1HL

Private View 6–9pm Friday 1 May 2009
Exhibition 2 May–12 June Wednesday–Sunday 11am–6pm
Contributing artists and writers for exhibition and publication:Petra Johanna Barfs Christine Binnie NoNose Cedric Christie Leigh Clarke Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly Andrew Cooper John Cussans Aidan Dunn Thomas Draschan Selena Godden Mark Hammond Richard Heslop Dick Jewell Dan Langton Dean Kenning Calum F Kerr Peter Lewis Lee Maezler Elizabeth Manchester Susana Medina Stephan Micalef Nasrin Montag Anne Charlotte Morgenstein Makiko Nagaya Richard Niman Derek Ogbourne Laura Oldfield Ford Sophie Parkin Mark O’Rorke Raul Pina Paul Renner Imogen O'Rorke Paul Sakoilsky Liam Scully Dallas Seitz Martin Sexton Bob and Roberta Smith Rose Smith Sarah Sparkes Gavin Turk Mike Watson Jürgen Wolfstädter
In 2007 Paul Sakoilsky started collecting London's free (and other) newspapers "from train, bus and street, editing the covers with paint and collage, adding, altering and deconstructing image and text to create a new periodical: The Dark Times. With the passage of time and the appearance of each succeeding cover this act of subversion has grown into an impressive body of work: at once satire and psycho-social investigation".At F-ISH gallery, the artist curates/edits ‘May Day: The Dark Times (Editor’s Choice≠1), the first extension of the project into the arena of curation. It will be an exhibition of essential works by international and emerging artists; many pieces exhibited for the first time. Whilst being fully respectful of individual works, the gallery will function as 'The Dark Times: Press Office≠3', an overall installation in which carefully chosen pieces will be set into dialogue. A further element will be the production of a special, first ever printed edition of The Dark Times, made up of commissioned work and text. This will be issued both as an affordable, standalone newsprint catalogue-paper, and as a limited boxed edition, with digital c-prints of selected pages.

Opening on May Day, a day on which Hastings town starts its Green Man celebrations the show runs over a 6-week period. The idea of May Day and Beltane is to be seen as an important conceptual framework, as a celebration of the international struggle for workers’ (human) rights, as much as for its ancient lineage as a celebration of fire, fertility and rebirth. The editor is interested in the alchemical-like power of discourse and art, akin to what critic and artist Dean Kenning terms 'Art-Energy', to question and to transform everyday struggle and materials.An editor's desk will be set up in the gallery from where Sakoilsky will periodically make a special edition in situ. From here, he will conduct symposia, inviting artists and thinkers from a variety of discourses, and the public to join an interdisciplinary purview of the times we are in, and where we might be heading. These will be published through the dark times podcasts and website set up for the project in collaboration with F-ISH's eco-hosted/solar-powered website.
Part of F-ISH gallery's Guest Curator Program.

....guest-curated by Paul Sakoilsky, entitled MAY DAY MAY DAY: THE DARK TIMES, an extension of his The Dark Times newspaper, featuring an array of local, national and international talents with artists such as Leigh Clarke, Laura Oldfield Ford, Marco, Rose Smith, Calum F. Kerr, Bob and Roberta Smith, Gavin Turk and Dallas Seitz and others. The gallery's mission is to respond to local audiences and engage the local public with their own idiosyncratic concerns. This show is no exception in allowing a wide range of audiences to be able to enter into a dialogue with the work of pagan and ritualistic beauty. Highlights include Sarah Spark's plywood coffin ‘You Are Here’ 2006 and Liam Scully's ‘Fertility Spell’. Mark Hammond presents an installation containing a placard with the words SAY NO TO JERWOOD, in response to the announcement of a new Jerwood gallery to the region. Laura Oldfield-Ford displays a copy of her Savage Messiah paperzine with its intricate details of architectural deprivation in a highly entertaining comic book graphic mode. Lee Maelzer exhibits ‘Scale’, a painting of both living in beauty and ugliness. Despite the space being much of a white cube outfit architecturally, much of the work has a grungy anarchic populist aesthetic enough to please the fine art connoisseurs and Joe Bloggs coming in off the street. It’s populist pagan poetry and thought-provoking.