Interview: Sally de Courcy
Luca Curci talks with Sally de Courcy during FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES, second appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Sally de Courcy lives in Woking, UK. She qualified in 2016 from the University of Creative Arts, Farnham with a first-class honors degree, scholarship and masters with distinction in Fine Art. She is interested in repetition of cast objects and works in different mediums including bronze. The objects are re-assembled to reveal a narrative. Her medical experience of working with refugees is reflected in her work, which often stands for those who are treated as less than human. The philosophical reasons for repetition of violence through history explored by Butler and Zizek have influenced her, together with artists Doris Salcedo, Ai Weiwei and Mona Hatoum who transcend their autobiographical experiences to comment on thematic human issues. Recently her work concerns humanitarian aspects of the COVID19 pandemic. Sally is a member of IAVA, International Association of Visual Artists and Continuum. She has had many publications most recently in Flux Review Magazine and has won awards. She has exhibited throughout the UK and internationally most recently with Transcultural Exchange, Boston, The Borders Exhibition in the Contemporary Art Space, Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello, Venice and the Espacio Gallery London. Sally has future exhibitions in 2020 at Ty Pawb Open, and 2021 in London.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Sally de Courcy – Art for me reveals a narrative. I cast repeated objects that relate metaphorically and literally and are hidden in the artwork. When the contextual links are recognised and re-assembled they reveal this hidden narrative. My work is frequently deliberately decorative but hiding darker and often sinister subjects that when revealed create dissonance. The sum then becomes something that, like an optical puzzle, oscillating between beauty and nightmare. I use repetition to emphasis my ideas and concerns within this overall gestalt.
LC – What are you currently working on?
SDC – I am currently working on a series of work based on cast driftwood relating to the COVID19 pandemic. The driftwood is symbolic of feeling stranded, ‘beached’ during lockdown. Bones also are often used in my work as they reflect human vulnerability and our mortality both particularly poignant during the current pandemic. Bones and driftwood share a commonality, they are both vestigial remains. Driftwood like a virus returns in waves. This series of works combine objects that metaphorically relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, both personally but also from a wider perspective. Bandages bind the works a reference to the my medical past and mixed identity as a patient. They also allude to Florence Nightingale and the Nightingale hospitals and the hope of eventual healing. The works are surreal reflecting our new unexpected world.
LC – Which iS the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
SDC – Contemporary Art for me is conceptually based on extensive contemporaneous research and ideas in the sciences and humanities, such that the artist becomes a medium in society to share sometimes challenging ideas creating an open platform for discussion and interpretation.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SDC – I am inspired by my experiences as both observer and participant, as practitioner and patient, most recently as an immunocompromised artist living a shielded existence in relative social isolation. My interest in making is highly personal, building repetitively from the small to the large, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I began by repeatedly casting simple objects and arranging them to create more complex forms, pursuing the well-trodden path of abstract repetition, and the magnifying repetition of imperfection, as a means of representing physical, social, and cultural evolution. An epiphany came at Art school, when I was challenged to make the abstract more personal, to bring more of myself into the piece. My work is not autobiographical in the figurative sense, but like many artists explores the liminal space between conscious representation and unconscious influence. In my case this has meant revisiting my experiences as a witness of human suffering, reinterpreted through a historical and geopolitical lens, informed by my wider reading. Recent authors who have directly inspired me include Butler and Zizek.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SDC – Deciding on the contextually linked objects that I will use to create the sculpture and combining them in such a way that when perceived they reveal a surprisingly dark or sinister narrative hidden within a frequently decorative artwork, creating dissonance.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? In which way did it inspire you? What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
SDC – The concept of ”Borders” is so pertinent during this current situation that the world finds itself in, as a result of the COVID19 pandemic and ”Black Lives Matter” we are kept apart but never before has it been so important to unite to fight our sudden vulnerability and to ensure equality for all. I was particularly inspired by the sub-title of ”Fragmented Identities” as this reflected how I felt during lockdown as an immunocompromised and isolated artist, fragmented from society. My sculpture ”Beached” reflected my personal experience but I also hope resonated with others and helped to break down the barrier of isolation and fear, that they may be experiencing themselves. The work connects to the theme of the festival by confronting the border of isolation to communicate with others in a fragmented world.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform? Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists? Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
SDC – I have been very impressed by the professionalism of ITSLIQUID platform in organisation, communication, administration and all aspects despite the difficulties of COVID19. It is always exciting to exhibit internationally and it has been an excellent opportunity for me as I am sure it would be for other artists. I have thoroughly enjoyed cooperating with ITSLIQUID GROUP and would highly recommend the experience.