[Laura Tarrish] On a recent visit to London I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with artist Sarah Bridgland, whose dynamic 3D collages combine two of my enduring obsessions: typography and ephemera. These deftly crafted works infuse commonplace bits of printed matter with new life, encouraging the viewer to fill in the blanks and imagine their own narrative.
While Sarah was doing a printmaking residency in Paris during her undergraduate years, she began collecting printed ephemera. Since her French was limited, the content often eluded her and she found herself drawn to the formal aspects of the documents, receipts and packaging she was gathering. She began to focus in on letterforms, shapes and textures, organizing these extracted fragments into color palettes, alphabets, themes. Back in England Sarah started experimenting three-dimensionally with the collections, and her irresistible constructions were born.
With a trained eye for balance and form, Sarah allows these constructions to evolve organically. Beginning with a major element or two, Sarah builds the sculpture carefully, letting each addition respond to the last element placed, “like drawing with paper,” letting the process determine the final form. There is a playful energy in her work, with letterforms and shapes animating the space around them. Part jigsaw puzzle, part pop-up theater, the miniature scale draws you in, but it’s the complexity that keeps you engaged. Fastidiously cut and carefully fabricated, these constructions, for me, also have an implied soundscape … as if you can almost hear the “Pop!” and “Pow!” of the exploding elements … or a nostalgic soundtrack (a little Gershwin perhaps?) to complement the retro graphics of her found ephemera.
The World (Black & White), 205 x 205 x 54mm, mixed media (2010)Matemaatika, 180 x 180 x 48mm, mixed media (2011)Red Falcon, 130 x 130 x 39mm, mixed media (2009)Cut-Out Collection (Black and White), 140 x 100 x 67mm, mixed media (2008)
Sarah conducts matchbox construction workshops for kids and recently presented an adult workshop as part of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum’s Sanctuary series, generously offering up tips and encouragement. And just in case you will be near Tulsa, Okla., this June, Sarah will be giving one such workshop at the Philbrook Museum of Art.
These meticulously crafted small-scale constructions are not to be missed.
Laura Tarrish is an ephemera collector, a map lover, a collage illustrator and has an incredible collection of miniature chairs. We are grateful for her contributions to Felt & Wire. Laura’s limited-edition cards and wraps are available for sale at Bridgetown Papers in the Felt & Wire Shop.