Installation view of Sarah crowEST’s <em>Strap-­on Paintings</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 crowEST

Sarah crowEST
(b. 1957, England. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Sarah crowEST operates across contemporary art, design, craft and performance. Underpinned by a deep appreciation for sound and architectural forms, her recent output combines painting, working apparel, diagrammatic scores and the graphic qualities of text.

For Melbourne Now, crowEST presents an updated iteration of her Strap-on Paintings, an ongoing series that questions the language of art-making and what a painting can be. ‘What does it mean when art becomes apparel?’, asks the artist. ‘The body is a support for the painting but also a way of experiencing it.’ Strap-on Paintings references historical and symbolic depictions of the apron as a utilitarian domestic garment, as fashion and as a central motif in the realm of art production. Here, in their hybrid form, the apron-like paintings are presented as minimalist, abstract canvases hanging on the walls of The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, featuring bold, diagonal geometries inspired by the architecture that surrounds them. Marked with blotches and stains, these expanded paintings are indicative of the artist’s ethos of sustainability through recycling, re-using and reinventing. Visitors are invited to interact with the paintings, which become enlivened by the human touch, their flat planes and hard-edge shapes shifting and falling in and out of order in the transition to three-dimensions and through scheduled peregrinations throughout the Gallery. Through this invitational process of wear, use and social interaction, visitors become complicit in the production of meaning.

crowEST has been awarded a Shakespeare Grove Artist Studio Residency (2017–21), a Gertrude Contemporary Studio residency (2013–16), and has completed a PhD for her sculpture-based research project Unaccountable Mass: bothersome matter and the humorous life of forms at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne (2013). Her work is held in various collections, including those of the NGV, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the NT Museum of Arts and Sciences.