Sally Labern is a visual artist whose work combines autonomous practice, short term collaborations and durational socially engaged projects like the drawing shed.
Labern works in sculpture and drawing, film, print and live performative works. She is deeply interested in resilience and the shadow which informs the ideas within her work; and she is a sculptor who makes/remake things
Labern also use digital tools within her personal and collaborative practice: GPS, film, sound, social networking / publishing and her work uses these media on a need to basis.
Pervading her practice is a preoccupation with the enquiry around the sovereignty of the artist’s voice, and how this translates into collaboration with other artists, and in turn how this manifests within socially engaged practice. Her work over the past ten years has explored the displaced space – the gallery versus the street versus the personal, and the emergence of an imaginative space, a preoccupation with ‘communities of imagination’ and the need to make objects and interventions that work on the edges of this impure exchange.
Labern currently holds a durational residency on two housing estates in East London Uk funded by Arts Council England where she co-leads ‘the drawing shed’, a dialogical project that unfolds around the focus of mobile art structures; a mobile drawing studio and print workshop called PrintBike and a collaborative art writing / Twitter: ‘WordintheHand’ creating live choreographed performances.
Labern creates interventions closely made with non artists, where trust and familiarity can lead to invitations to take risks in art making where the creative spaces and relationships made with participants throw up ‘edges’. It is this practice that she currently refers to as ‘lost’, making works that are driven out of that space.
When using drawing she physically works a space as well as a ‘surface’ (loosely defined, can be objects or the entirety of a papered out room/external space)and she develops large drawing/print works in contested public/’common’ spaces; she currently works on a national uk artist led Twitter project around the edges of day and night.
Labern: “I am interested in the edges and the boundaries between places and people. The work I make derives this content from the unspoken things that I perceive are held in common across psychological geographies.
I seek to reconfigure spaces and objects that hold social positions [Pierre Bourdieu] and distort, reposition, and remake them to explore how an intervention can make the object’s usual position discordant with its new ‘value’. I set out to unsettle, and subtlety rupture, contest, known meanings, to uncover the ‘other’ – by which I mean the ideas that sit outside the mainstream / dominant received ideas of the mythical norm and those of the imagination (Kearney); I choose to uncover the liminal space that can harbour distinct differences”
Labern co-led the [dis]locate project with Tahera Aziz and Yemeni women in Sheffield: Site – a co-authored multidisciplinary project over two years exploring place, refuge, memory and fluid personal lives versus communalism, in shaping identities. Labern has worked in the public realm for over 20 years creating permanent and temporary works within diverse communities and contested spaces. In 2010/11 Labern worked for a year with an east london community in Ilford to create a beacon neon work in a listed glass house in response to a murder within the community. She uses performative drawing, print, film, social media, installation and sculpture within her practice and is deeply engaged with silence as a psychological shadow. Labern is a fine art professional doctorate student at University of East London.