DR@W event: Sarah Woodfine on her practice

Sarah Woodfine teaches on the Sculpture course at UAL Wimbledon but drawing forms a large part of her current practice. She won the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2004.

She began by showing us a clip from The Wizard of Oz in which Dorothy lands in Oz and steps from the black and white world of her family home into the Technicolour one of Oz. Here’s the house tumbling down to earth.

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This story contains many elements that continue to be important in her work: childhood, dreams, the idea of multiple realities – the writer of The Wizard of Oz was influenced by Hindu spiritual philosophy -, moments of entry from one reality to another …

Her drawings are very highly finished, as we saw when we visited a recent solo show at the Danielle Arnaud gallery in South London, but Sarah quoted a remark by critic and art historian Marco Livingstone about this effort not being imposed on the viewer. In fact, the viewer could almost see the flat, even tones as areas of printed colour, not graphite pencil work.

Here is a piece from 2007, Somewhere, which she described as a diorama. What most interested her was presenting a piece with one reading from a flat, front-on view, and another from a  3D view. The bright yellow is invisible at first but gives the 3D view a completely different emotional tone, as she intends. Other similar works, including one based on the Hitchcock film Psycho, offered even more different scenes and readings. She was most excited by being able to manifest her own version of a subject like this.

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160309 PG lecture Sarah Woodfine 04 for webShe was also making, and has continued to make small drawings in snow domes, often with very different elements back to back. These domes relate to her constant pre-occupation with containment. This continued into drawings fitted into a cot or presented as items of or parts of furniture. But she began to feel that these ‘add-ons’ and the growth of narrative in her work were moving her away from the most important thing: the process with the pencil.

Her more recent works returned to just the pencil and the paper, but the paper, especially when presented in a rolled form, is becoming an object in its own right. Woodfine starts with an outline for each drawing, but the drawing changes as she works and she is not afraid to erase extensively and redraw repeatedly. She described her drawings as ‘overloaded’ with associations:

each picture is tunnelling back to a personal past


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