Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Electric Girl

Artist Sarah Sparkes has created an installation to compliment the Voices in the Dark series of events at Senate House Library. The work is a response to research carried out at the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature, during a research fellowship undertaken by the artist at UOL between 2008 – 2011.

Stella Cranshaw AKA The Electric Girl was one of many alleged mediums, tested for authenticity, by self proclaimed Psychical researcher Harry Price (17 January 1881 – 29 March 1948). Details and ephemera from many of Prices investigations are to be found in the special collections at SHL (Senate House Library). 

At his laboratory for Psychical Research, Price carried out a series of 'controlled séances' utilising various apparatus he had invented to test psychic powers. Notes, detailing every event that occurred during the séance, were recorded by one of the sitters and later published in a book, Stella C. An Account of Some Original Experiments in Psychical Research (Hurst & Blackett Ltd., London, 1925) now held in the special collection at SHL. Sparkes invited and directed several of SHLs' staff in a recorded reading of the notes taken during one of the Stella Cranshaw séances. The recording, was edited together with footage of the imposing table in the Durning-Lawrence Library where most of the Voices in the Dark events are taking place.

A series of light bulbs and glass jars, referencing Prices; Psychic testing apparatus, illuminate the faces of famous mediums and psychical researchers associated with Harry Price. From left to right these are: Eileen J. Garrett, C.E.M. Joad, Eleonore Zugun, Margery (Mina) Crandon, Stella Cranshaw, Harry Price, Helen Duncan, Eric Dingwall, Voirrey Irving, Rudi Schneider.
With thanks to séance readers: Bianca Bristow, Richard Espley, Charles Harrowell, Jordan Landes, Kelly Marshall. Thanks to Charles Harrowell for his role as sound engineer and for setting up the recordings.

Sarah Sparkes is an artist and curator. She runs the visual arts and research project GHost (initiated with Ricarda Vidal in 2008) and has published on and regularly lectures about this subject. She has exhibited widely, both in the UK and internationally. Recent exhibitions and commissions include: MERU Art*Science Award III Edition, GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy; English Magic at New Art Projects, London; Fall of the Rebel Angels at Venice Biennale; Theatrical Dynamics at Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles, U.S.A; Overtime at London Maritime Museum and Stephen Lawrence Gallery; Haunted Landscapes at Falmouth University and AIRM2014, Romney Marsh, U.K. She is currently developing a new commission for an exhibition exploring science and magic, curated by Rob La Frenais for FACT in Liverpool.
Recent publications: The GHost Project: manifesting ghosts through visual art and creative research, chapter in The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures, edited by Olu. Jenzen & Sally R Munt, (Ashgte: 2013)
Entries on Ghosts and GHost Project. In: Ghosts, Spirits, and Psychics: The Paranormal from Alchemy to Zombies, edited by Matt Cardin (ABC Clio: 2015).

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

MERU Art*Science Award III Edizione

I am delighted to be the recipient of the MERU Art*Science Award, III Edition (nominated by Rob La Frenais).  My film, Time You Need, will be exhibited at GAMeC  (Gallery d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea) as part of the 13th Bergamo Science Festival.  The work will become part of GAMeC’s permanent collection, the archives of the Fondazione Meru and the Association BergamoScienza.

MERU Art*Science Award III EditionSarah Sparkes: TIME YOU NEED02.10 – 29.11  2015GAMeC – Gallery d’Arte Moderna e ContemporaneaVia San Tomaso, 5324121 BergamoItalywww.gamec.itTime You Need, by Sarah Sparkes explores the potential for consciousness to time-travel within the material limits of the human body. Using the symbolism of the portal and black hole, as they are conceptualised in both science and science fiction, the film presents a montage of narratives and documentation of performances and installations, which together with sonic and visual disruptions, create a liminal experience for the spectator.
The proposition is that one may find, herein, the time one needs.

Thanks to:  Sooz Belnavis , Café Gallery Projects London, Chelsea School of Art and Design, Rebecca Feiner, Phillip Raymond Goodman, Caroline Gregory, Rob La Frenais, Patrick Morrissey, Dr Pietro M. Reviglio, Anne Robinson, St. John on Bethnal Green, Ian Thompson, Robert Whytehead.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

English Magic at New Art Projects

I am delighted to be showing my new NEVER AFRAID paintings, along with some from the orignial series, at Fred Mann's stunning new gallery - New Art Projects

New Art Projects
6D Sheep Lane, London, E8 4Q
Opening hours:
Wednesday - Friday 11-6, Saturday 12-5
or by appointment e: info@newartprojects.comt
: +44 (0)207 249 4032 
Exhibition runs18 July - 23 August


Fred Mann is delighted to announce the first exhibitions at his new gallery, New Art Projects.

ENGLISH MAGIC will be made up of four solo shows by painters James E Crowther, Fergus Hare, Sarah Sparkes and Geraldine Swayne.

The exhibitions will explore the fine line between the real and the sublime in contemporary British Painting, looking in particular at what happens when the English landscape is distilled through the eyes of artists. A magical realm is created.

James E Crowther

“Gabba Gabba Hey... We accept you, we accept you. One of us, one of us, welcome to the Circus!”
Tod Browning’s, 1932, pre-censure Hollywood, movie Freaks

James E Crowther has carved an extraordinary series of figures from MDF, the choice of material for the coffin the maker. These are then meticulously hand painted and each are unique, having their own individual story. These figures are his Pinocchios, life is breathed into them and as they multiplied in his studio they began to create a visual noise.

He has created a modern day freak-show, a sideshow that grew into a celebration. It is a celebration not just of our shabby imperfection, our humanity but also of our shadow-side and weaknesses. Through out the narrative his characters create a burlesque undercurrent detailing the lives of the sideshow performers.

Fergus Hare

Fergus Hare makes oil paintings of the Sussex landscape; however a visual transformation is underway. Rather than paint from the landscape on his doorstep, these works stem from the imagination. With a firm nod to the fantastical “valley of vision” of Samuel Palmer and the mysticism of William Blake, Hare re-imagines the landscape as a dream-scape, on the edge of twilight. Alongside his paintings we will also exhibit an extraordinary series of charcoal drawings of the moon and planets. A solar system of the imagination.

Sarah Sparkes

'NEVER AFRAID' is a body of work that artist Sarah Sparkes has been creating over the past decade and is an attempt to both invoke and exorcise the memories embedded within her childhood locations. The title “Never Afraid” refers to the small village of Aldworth in the Berkshire Downs and a legend passed down to her by her mother's family about the four magical Aldworth Giants: John Long, John Strong, John Never Afraid and John Ever Afraid.

The 'NEVER AFRAID' works are an investigation of these stories, symbols and fragmentary facts that she has used to try to communicate with an idea of the past. She observes “NEVER AFRAID is a challenge made on a threshold before crossing into a symbolic, supernormal space; 'NEVER AFRAID' is a magical incantation to both summon and defend against forces outside of our understanding.”

Each of the ten works are painted with acrylic and mixed media on wall paper from one of her childhood family homes.

Geraldine Swayne

Geraldine Swayne takes her subjects from a wide rage of sources; from pornography, landscapes and portraits of friends and musical collaborators. She describes a creative and complex world that bridges artistic and musical creativity. As a member of the celebrated band 'FAUST', Swayne incorporates painting into her on-stage performances and often documents her experimental performances in her paintings. Her small enamel paintings have all of the fascination of historical cabinet miniatures; small, intimate, often sexual imagery is rendered in jewel-like colours on tiny metal panels.

Her fascination with life and the personal landscapes she encounters comes from the margins of society, her works describes the edge of or a bridge between obsessive worlds and the day to day.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

POOL at Cafe Gallery Projects London


CGP London
Southwark ParkLondon SE16 2UAUnited Kingdom
8-26 Jul 2015

 My installation Jane Conquest Rings the Bell is included in the POOL group show at CGP London.

A Bermondsey Artists’ Group Exhibition
Exhibition: 8 - 26 July 2015 | Wed-Sun 11-5pm
Preview: Sunday, 5 July 3 - 5pm
Elisa Alaluusua | Caspar Below | Cecilia Bentley Bortoluzzi | Claire Blundell-Jones | Frances Coleman | Jane Colling | Jane Deakin | Gail Dickerson | Sean Dower | Stephen Dunn | Beth Elliott Tony Fleming | Charlie Fox | Michèle Fuirer | Caroline Gregory | Vivien Harland | Jonathan Hood | Sophie Horton | Malcolm Jones | Daniel Lehan | Miyako Narita | Anne Robinson | Louise Sheridan | Sisters from Another Mister | Harald Smykla | Lewis Paul | Martin Pover | Sarah Sparkes | Sarah Taylor | Karin Wach | Carla Wright
The buried presence of the Southwark Park Lido (1923-1986) mirrors recent transformations of North Bermondsey/Surrey Quays (née Docks); a ghostly trace marked by the decommissioned fountain and the presence of the original lido café (transformed into a gallery by The Bermondsey Artists’ Group in 1984 to become what we now know as Cafe Gallery - totally rebuilt in 1999-2000). The extraordinary history of the Pool of London and the growth of industry it supported has been slowly erased, to be re-built in another form. Nevertheless, the traces and scars of this story remain to be revisited, retold and remade.
POOL refers to this exchange and transformation; how the intersections and collaborations between artists both describe and resist the story of this transformation. The pooled activity of artists can sometimes offer other potential histories hidden beneath the surface: the watery world of Anthias (Sisters from Another Mister) suggests another world where the lido swimmer plunges underwater and begins to dream; threads pull apart just as they seem to pool together, echoing the contested artistic histories and ideas that have been born out of thirty years of working with and within Southwark, illustrated by Malcolm Jones’ local mural study for a painting commission that is now erased (Water Table/Estuary, 1985). Other works allude specifically to these marks of change and socio-economic transformations such as Carla Wright's banners and Karin Wach's photo traces of now demolished buildings and Anne Robinson’s Thrashing in the Static which explores psychic time travel and disorienteering The Thames.
POOL offers insight into how conversation and dialogue can cluster together ideas that can be both nourishing but also resistant creating a dialogue amongst works that re-present the world back to itself, creating allusions and ideas that ripple from the centre and bounce back. Looking down into the mirrored surface of a pool we begin to see other possible worlds beneath the surface.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fluorescent - Soho Open House Arts Festival

My installation 'You are Here' is included in Fluorescent - Soho Open Arts Festival this year.

This is an exciting new festival, which pairs up and coming and more established artists with some of Soho's established and much loved businesses.

4 July 11 - 7pm
and 5 July 11 - 5pm
Various venues around Soho.  Check website for full details:

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Venice 2015 - Fall of the Rebel Angels

I'm delighted to be showing a new work in the group exhibition, The Fall of the Rebel Angels at the Venice Biennale, 2015.

The Fall Of The Rebel Angels
Venice 56 ~ 2015
In association with Bath Spa University
Vernissage: 8th May, 6pm – 10pm
Also open 6th & 7th May , 6pm – 10pm
Exhibition Runs 9th May ~ 23rd June 2015 open daily from 12pm ~ 7pm
Finissage Day 24th June 2015 open 6pm ~ 10pm

Location address:
Castello 1610/A
Riva Dei Sette Martiri Venezia 30122
for ltd edition catalogue and info contact:
Kindly supported By Bath Spa University & UEL London

Ghost-dance I, Sarah Sparkes, mixed media, 2015

Curator Vanya Balog on The Fall of the Rebel Angels
The Fall Of the Rebel Angels is an artist led satellite exhibition which will open concurrently with the 56th Venice Biennale on 6th,7th & 8th of May and remain open to public daily until Wednesday 24th June 2015. This group exhibition is intended to be seen as complimentary to and continuous with my democratic curatorial practice of recent years and is one artist's view as to what an arrangement and extension of those ideas might look like in Venice, when there is no budget available, space restriction being of prevalent concern and no one else left to persuade. It includes, naturally, work by 111 emerging and established artists from many different backgrounds, at different ages and stages of their practise with different motivations in play. It also includes some unseen new works and equally some old new works. Nearly every one of them has exhibited internationally and their work on this occasion is centered in factor of risk rather than comfort. The Fall Of The Rebel Angels does not explore, follow or define any particular topic or theme, neither does it enforce any standpoint or high minded idea. It is rather one solution, for a particular time and particular place. This petit space, which will be home to a multiverse of disquieting thoughts and impressions is a ground floor of the historic Venetian palazzo, conveniently situated between Arsenale and Giardini. The plural narrative examined by all selected artists will take shape during 6 day install period, commencing on Friday 1st May. Artists will participate in the exhibition build up partly influencing and guiding the installation process towards its final moments. Exhibition will open for the first preview day on Wednesday 6th May at 6pm local time. Apart from its static aspect internally, exhibition will feature a number of performative acts in the open air ongoing over the three consecutive days, with the final preview assessment taking place on Friday 8th May. Exhibition is equally accompanied by 128 page limited edition catalogue featuring some visual exclusives collated for this special occasion. This unique publication is designed, edited and produced by graphic design students at Bath Spa University in close collaboration with Rebel Angels. I would also like to acknowledge the kind support of artists Cedric Christie @ Bath Spa, Mark Woods&Rebecca Scott, Negin Vaziri, Hedley Roberts @ UEL London, Genevieve Closuit and all my fellow exhibiting artists and young designers who have embarked courageously on this journey of unknowing.
Vanya Balogh
London 2015

~ disquiet remains

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Chinese Open - Year of the sheep

Sarah Sparkes 'Dream Sheep Catcher', barbed wire and wool, 2015

I'm delighted to have contributed to the Chinese Open again.  This will be my third year of participation and I have made a new work again for this exhibition in which all art works respond to the animal represented in this year;'s new year.  2015 is the year of the sheep and I've made a large dream catcher - big enough for a sheep to jump through - from wool and barbed wire.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Other Rooms

FLUE My first work of 2015

I was excited to be asked by artist curators Patrick Morrissey and Hanz Hancock to take part in the exhibition Other Rooms at Basement Art Projects in Leeds.
After a site visit, I decided to make a new work for the hole in the chimney breast where a fireplace or stove was once located.  All the works in the show had to have their own light source and this was the only illumination in this very atmospheric space. My work FLUE used a mixed material construction to create a portal-like space suggesting a possibility to travel over space via a this infinite tunnel of pulsating lights.  The red lights twinkling could also be seen as the coals in fireplace.
Holes acting as conduits in and out of  the domestic space, such as chimneys, drains and electrics  sockets, have been  associated with magical means of travel in science fiction and children's literature; they are also a common source of anxiety for those in a delusional mental state.

Other Rooms
Basement Arts Project
Address: 28 Burton Terrace, Beeston, West Yorkshire LS11 5JH
Saturation Point is a curatorial project by London based curators Patrick Morrissey & Hanz Hancock that looks at work by reductive, geometric and systems artists working in the UK. For the ‘Other Rooms’ exhibition in January 2015 BasementArtsProject welcomes them to Leeds to stage an exhibition that will look at the re-contextualisation of the art object outside of the white cube. Artists Charley Peters, Giulia Ricci, Sarah Sparkes, Ben Woodeson, John Workman, Andy Wicks, WalkerHill and Morrissey and Hancock themselves respond to the challenges presented when exhibiting artworks beyond the confines of the generally accepted environment.
To be invited to the Preview Night for ‘Other Rooms’ or gain directions to BasementArtsProject please e-mail Bruce Davies at
Friday 16th January 2015 7.30 – 9.30pm
Exhibition Open (at other times by appointment)
Saturday 17th January 2015 2 – 4pm
Sunday 18th January 2015 2 – 4pm
Saturday 24th January 2015 2 – 4pm
Sunday 25th January 2015 2 – 4pm