Sarah Elson

Sarah Elson’s series Lament of the Labellum was one of the finalist entrants for the John Stringer Prize in 2017. In this series, Sarah has removed the labellum from common ornamental orchids. Each petal is individually removed from the plant, cast, formed or forged and strung together. Each one of the works in this series can have up to 95 cast petals. The labellum, also known as the lips, is the medial orchid petal, it is the landing pad for fertilisation; its sole purpose is to attract a pollinator, it is a point of attraction, connection and the continuation of life. By pulling away the individual labellum and spreading it apart the artist is in affect pulling away the potential of each new flower, yet at the same time immortalising it as an enduring although sharp and hard symbol of the flesh.

Sarah Elson was born in South Australia, but has spent most of her life in Western Australia. Following a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction, she has pursued an interest in traditional metalsmithing and its use in contemporary visual arts practice since the 1990s. In 2001 she received a Samstag Scholarship and in 2003 awarded a Master of Fine Art at the Chelsea School of Art and Design. 

Sarah’s work examines the nature of preciousness and the preciousness of nature. Transience, ephemerality, sensuality and reciprocity are key words in Sarah’s practice – so too an understanding of community, relationships and the entanglement of life. The act of making for Sarah is a meditation on growth; realised through the fluid potential of a medium often perceived as static. The sensuality in her work, of material and subject matter, draws out a philosophical attitude to being. 

Sarah’s work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Curtin University Art Collection, Edith Cowan University and the Janet Holmes à Court Collection. She is a current sessional academic at Curtin University.

Photos courtesy of the artist. See more at The Art Collective.

Date: July 1, 2020
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