Installation view of Sarah Brasier’s <em>The spring of my life</em> 2022 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

Sarah Brasier

Sarah Brasier
(b. 1991, Singapore. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Working across painting, video and curating, Sarah Brasier’s practice combines autobiographical elements with text, memes, remnants of the daily news cycle, Western mythology and symbols of the natural world. Using non-human protagonists, her paintings often employ pathos, humour and the absurd to communicate the inner lives of these objects and creatures. 

The spring of my life, 2022, is a painting that borrows its title from an autobiographical work of the same name by poet Kobayashi Issa, considered one of the greatest Japanese haiku poets. Taught at every school in Japan, Issa’s works frequently reveal a deep compassion for humans and non-humans alike – animals, insects and plants – despite the author’s experiences of immense hardship throughout his life. Underscoring his philosophy is a sense of mono no aware, a Japanese idiom describing a sense of beauty tinged with an awareness of impermanence, and it’s with this lens that Brasier approaches her own The spring of my life: a two-metre-wide landscape painting replete with birds, flowers and other symbols of the natural world. Here, the artist explores two possible worlds within a world: how the daily grind might be experienced by anthropomorphic flowers who are chained to their MacBooks and, by contrast, magpies singing karaoke and the words ‘call in sick’ appearing Issa-esque in the rainbow.

Brasier completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne in 2018; a Diploma of Visual Art at RMIT University in 2014; and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Geology) at Federation University in Ballarat in 2010. With an interest in the notion of friendship as a creative catalyst, in 2016 Brasier founded the Winter1706 art fair, presenting a series of exhibitions by early career artists across a series of vacant apartments on St Kilda Road, Melbourne. She has also curated projects at SEVENTH Gallery, Melbourne, where she is on the board of directors, Firstdraft, Sydney, and more. In 2017, Brasier was awarded a New Colombo Plan Scholarship by the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs, living in Japan for eighteen months and completing a semester at Joshibi University of Fine Art in Tokyo.