The Skinny Showcase: Sarah Eyre

Gallery | 05 Jun 2015

Showcase: Sarah Eyre

“My work is concerned with an abiding fascination for the uncanny and the surreal in everyday objects, as well as an ongoing exploration of relationship between skin, hair and wigs and their relationship to gender, identity and the female body.

"Flaccid started as an interest in the loss of control of the body. This is mimicked by these twisted balloons, which resemble contorted limbs. As the balloons deflate, they might appear to represent flaccidity; ageing, wrinkled skin. But, as you watch them they seem to find new spurts of energy and re-shape themselves into different things; with each new contortion and turn they have a new identity and they re-mould themselves. The entropy of their deflation isn't a single straightforward decline, instead within it we see something very different, the inanimate becomes animate, the dead rubber latex, brightly coloured, uncannily re-boots itself.

"My recent body of photographic work, Wigs (2012-14), was informed by a previous documentary study into detritus left lying around a red-light district in Manchester. I became interested in fallen hairpieces (artificial extensions, weaves, etc.) that I regularly found in the street. These strange relics were graphic metaphors for what went on in the area, either as evidence of broken femininity, quite literally 'fallen woman,' or as symbols of the underlying violence that the women risked working there. They could also represent the sloughed off remains of women who had shifted from one social state to another, from one persona to another.

"My new works, Penetralia and Furl, build on my previous project, Wigs; but rather than explore narrative and symbolic associations around the posed wig, I have chosen to investigate the wigs' suggestive possibilities in their disembodied state. Wigs are intended to be worn on the body, and through the body's surfaces they are easily subsumed into the wearer's identity. But a disembodied wig has to acquire its identity and presence through its own means: its interior and exterior become interchangeable – suggesting new possibilities for interpretation.

"For both series, I have manipulated and photographed wigs in order to draw attention to their oddness, while maintaining some allusions to their previous, feminising function. By cutting through the resulting photographs I am literally opening up the wig in order to create playful relationships between interior and exterior, as well as suggesting different spaces where new meanings can be explored. As fragile paper experiments, they hint at the delicate nature of femininity as a masquerade, and offer glimpses of the surreal and uncanny in otherwise everyday objects.”

Sarah Eyre is a lens-based artist and part-time lecturer. She recently exhibited Wigs at FORMAT International Photography Festival in Derby and her work has appeared in Source and Of the Afternoon magazines.

Penetralia was made while on PAPER Gallery's Tracing PAPER mentoring scheme. The resulting exhibition opens at PAPER Gallery, 14-20 Mirabel Street, Manchester, M3 1PJ, on 6 June (ends 18 July).