In this exhibition Paolo Uccello’s painting The Hunt in the Forest (1470) is the basis for a series of works combining printmaking, needlepoint, text and collage.
In a process of excavation, Sarah quarried material from Uccello’s painting and its making, playing with form, storytelling and language.
The word ‘quarry’ carries multiple meanings within it – an animal sought and chased, a pit from which material has been mined, the process of extraction – and has Middle English and Old French roots in words for leather, the heart and the process of disembowelling. Originally the term denoted the parts of a deer that were placed on the hide and given as a reward to the hounds. In Sarah’s work, these layered meanings are themselves mined and the question of whom or what the quarry may be is left hanging.
The striking arrangement of sculpted trees that make up Uccello’s forest appear to Sarah as a singular tree, repeated many times into infinity. They begin to suggest an enclosed architectural space akin to fan-canopied cathedral ceilings or the Great Mosque of Cordoba (784), an immense chamber of columns and arches.
Amongst ruined stone, catacombs and pillars lurk Sarah’s painted and collaged creatures which exist in a liminal space between realms of the human and animal, ancient and modern, real and imagined. Referencing Hieronymus Bosch, Alice in Wonderland and botanical drawings, these figures form the tableau of a different, nocturnal hunt - the moonlight transforming forms and roles. In Sarah’s works, things hiding in the darkness of the forest come to the fore.
Quarry exhibition gallery
The dogs in south London are running. One of the big ones slows down as it passes me and I step back as its nose swerves into my crotch, waving my arms as though that would make any difference. If it were really hungry it would just eat me but I get a face full of hot meaty air and it’s a lucky day.
The relics and ghosts of long ago are brought together here as if in a wild dream of nature. Starting from the verticals of Uccello’s trees and dotted lines he cut into the wood I wanted to present a landscape of fragments that offers a framework for a narrative.
As if peering through a gap in the trees this art work focuses on the relationship between light and dark, quarry and hunter. The colour and form of the red figure references Uccello’s practice within the late Gothic tradition and reminds us that red is the colour of fairytales, representing blood (virginity, violence, death).
2. Middle English quyrrey, querre, curee, quirre, from Anglo-Norman quirreie, from Old French cuiriee, ‘entrails of deer placed on the hide and given to dogs of the chase as a reward’, (influenced by cuir ((skin (of an animal)), from Latin corium (a hide) and curer (clean, disembowel), from Vulgar Latin corata (entrails), from Latin cor (heart).
3. Alteration of quarrel (disagreement), ‘diamond-shaped piece of coloured glass forming part of a stained glass window’; square tile.