Approved: 16.08.2006

Sarah Kudirka

Artist, Consultant

Approved: 16.08.2006

when did you last look up at the sky?

Sarah Kudirka's work is about the shapes and edges of stuff: buildings, cities, objects and words. Her practice has also explored concepts of belonging(s) and landscape history.

Since 2012 she has worked on a major series of paintings/drawings made directly over Polaroids. It comes from a simple but compelling idea, walking city streets and looking up at the sky squeezed in between tall buildings. Sarah takes instant snaps as she walks in urban backstreets (of cities with which she has enduring fascination) then overlays them creating reimagined cityscapes using oil paint and pencil. To date the series comprises 700+ images based on London, Glasgow, Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney.  Sarah ideally presents her small images in large wall-mounted grids, exploiting the appeal of Polaroid format in repetition so they resemble mesmerising urban plans for an imaginary city. Her "beautiful and accessible" and "technically innovative" unpeopled images have analogue appeal, bold colours and cartooned detail with their loosely-drawn lines. 

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      Artist Statement

      when did you last look up at the sky?

      Sarah Kudirka's work is about the shapes and edges of stuff: buildings, cities, objects and words. Her practice has also explored concepts of belonging(s) and landscape history.

      Since 2012 she has worked on a major series of paintings/drawings made directly over Polaroids. It comes from a simple but compelling idea, walking city streets and looking up at the sky squeezed in between tall buildings. Sarah takes instant snaps as she walks in urban backstreets (of cities with which she has enduring fascination) then overlays them creating reimagined cityscapes using oil paint and pencil. To date the series comprises 700+ images based on London, Glasgow, Berlin, Hong Kong and Sydney.  Sarah ideally presents her small images in large wall-mounted grids, exploiting the appeal of Polaroid format in repetition so they resemble mesmerising urban plans for an imaginary city. Her "beautiful and accessible" and "technically innovative" unpeopled images have analogue appeal, bold colours and cartooned detail with their loosely-drawn lines. 

      Sarah's bold semi-abstract work is made on canvas, often layered up over years and then scraped and scratched back resulting in Trashed Canvases; and she also makes tiny colour sketches over Instax (instant film) snaps.

      The artist has a longstanding affiliation with Arup, the built environment engineering/design firm, latterly as a creative consultant. As inhouse global artist, working with Sir John Sorrell, Sarah developed "The Penguin Pool" from concept to being a successful global events series in 15 major cities worldwide. At Arup she also devised her "Working Without a Brief" visual creativity training for designers.

      Sarah is experienced in public-realm art delivery planning and commissioning with clients such as Yorkshire Water and Tideway, developers, architects and local authorities. From 2009 to 2017 Sarah was a charity Board Member/Trustee of ACME Artists Studios in London. She is an elected council member of the Society of Scottish Artists and a member of the Scottish Contemporary Art Network.

      While Sarah does not term herself a disabled artist, she is partially-deaf.

      NB Until 2012, the artist was known as Sarah K. Davenport. Her degrees and early-career awards were gained under that name.

      CV & Education

      Born 1968, in England

      Qualifications

      • 1991 - MA in Sculpture Studies - distinction, The University of Leeds
      • 1990 - BA (hons) Fine Art - first class, The University of Leeds

      Sarah is perhaps best known for her artworks in oil and pencil over Polaroids, focusing on cities, but for many years her larger semi-abstract paintings explored the ideas around belonging(s) - that is not just the possessions we own, but how material culture is tied up with our attachment to places and people, to the past, our languages and family traditions. Across all that she does, Sarah focuses on everyday things; peripheral or seemingly inconsequential objects in the background of life happening. Painted words have long figured in Sarah's work as have recurrent furniture motifs.
       
      Sarah Kudirka (under her maiden name, Davenport) won a number of early career awards and has exhibited regularly since 1988. She has works in public, corporate and private collections in Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Spain, the UK and USA.

      Solo exhibitions:

      • 2017- When did you last look up? London Festival of Architecture, Whitechapel
      • 2017 - Berlin City Skies, Laura Lea Art & Design, London
      • 2015 - Paint + Polaroids, Canary Wharf Window Gallery, London
      • 2014 - City Skies, The Orange Tree, London
      • 2005 - Belongings, Toni Heath Gallery, London
      • 2001 - Fit and Proper, London Stock Exchange
      • 2000 - As Seen on TV, bbb Contemporary Art, London
      • 1998 - Vocabulary, Oliver J Benjamin, London
      • 1995 - Methodiz'd, Casson Gallery, Eastbourne
      • 1993 - Chairs and Stripes, Newlyn Gallery, West Yorkshire
      • 1992 - Country Seat, Lotherton Hall, Leeds City Art Galleries

      Group exhibitions:

      • 2019 - ARt CarBoot Sale, Glasgow
      • 2019 - Glasgow Contemporary Art Fair, Glasgow
      • 2018 - Into The City, Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk
      • 2017 - The Other Art Fair, London
      • 2016 - The Other Art Fair, London
      • 2015 - Introducing, Roseberys, London
      • 2015 - The Other Art Fair, London
      • 2013 - A Postcard From My Studio, Acme Project Space, London
      • 2005 to date, annually - Secret, Royal College of Art, London
      • 2002 - Size Matters, Stephen Lacey Gallery, London
      • 2001 - Larnaca Works Open, London
      • 2001 - Raw Canvas, London
      • 1999 - Artfutures, Contemporary Art Society, London
      • 1998 - Larnaca Studios, Whitechapel Open
      • 1995 - Wessex Open, Southampton City Art Gallery
      • 1994 - Christmas Show, CCA Galleries, Bath
      • 1993 - Young Artists South East, Folkestone Library Gallery
      • 1992 - Art For Sale, The Guardian/Whiteleys
      • 1992 - Young Artists South East, Maidstone Library Gallery
      • 1990 - New Graduates, Yorkshire Television Centre

      Projects:

      • Artist Research Residency at Project Ability, Glasgow, February 2018
      • Founder of The Penguin Pool events series for Arup, launched worldwide 2011
      • Public Art delivery plan consultancy for architects, developers and select clients
      • Board Member/Trustee of Acme Artists Studios Ltd (charity) from 2010 to 2017
      • Managed exhibitions, collection & acquisitions, Matrix Chambers, Gray's Inn
      • Director's Office assistant at Tate Modern, to Sir Nicholas Serota & Vicente Todoli
      • Compiled catalogue raisonne of Austin Wright, funded by The Henry Moore Sculpture Trust. Published in The Sculpture of Austin Wright, James Hamilton, 1994, Lund Humphries/The Henry Moore Foundation

      Awards:

      • The Passey Prize in Art, The University of Leeds 1990
      • Light in Art, finalist, The Prudential 1990
      • British Council Major Award 1990
      • Young Artists South East Purchase Prize, Kent Arts & Libraries 1991

      Memberships:

      Elected Council Member of the Society of Scottish Artists
      Member of Scottish Contemporary Art Network