When I decide on a subject for my blog I look for three criteria to be met. Firstly, and on a personal note, I need to be interested in the person or their art. Secondly, I need to be able to find enough information with regards the life of the artist and their family upbringing and lastly, I need to have enough copies of their works to be able to populate the blog. Without all three criteria, I tend to reluctantly disregard the artist as the subject of my blogs. Having said all that, the next two blogs feature artists who did not meet with all the criteria – the missing criterium in both cases was the limited information I had about their lives, but because I liked their work so much I decided to feature them albeit in much shorter blogs.
In this blog, I am looking at the work of a living surrealist artist and as I told you in an earlier blog about another living artist, Neil Simone (My Daily Art Display – May 24th 2017), who coincidently could also be classed as a surrealist, I try and avoid blogging about painters who are still alive, for fear of upsetting them!!! My featured artist today is the Welsh-born surrealist painter Sally Moore.
Although my favourite art tends to be landscapes, seascapes, and genre paintings I am fascinated by surrealist art and I am mesmerised by the thought process which goes into the depictions. The Tate’s short description of the term surrealism encapsulates the very essence of the art form:
“…A twentieth-century literary, philosophical and artistic movement that explored the workings of the mind, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary…”
One of the most famous surrealist artists was the twentieth century Italian artist, Giorgio de Chirico and his take on surrealism was:
“…Although the dream is a very strange phenomenon and an inexplicable mystery, far more inexplicable is the mystery and aspect our minds confer on certain objects and aspects of life…”
Sometimes it is a mistake to compartmentalise art or the works of an artist and maybe Sally Moore would not want her art to be categorised as Surrealism and perhaps she would be unhappy that I am typecasting her as a Surrealist painter. If so, I apologise in advance and just say that her exquisite depictions are quirky, amusing and cleverly thought out.
Sally Moore was born in Barry, South Wales in 1962. She studied art at the Ruskin School of Art, in Oxford. The Ruskin School of Art dates to 1871, when John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, as well as an art patron, draughtsman, and watercolourist, first opened his School of Drawing. Sally subsequently won a scholarship to study at the British School in Rome.
Her paintings from the very start of her career were popular with both the critics and public alike and, early on, she won awards at the National Eisteddfod. More awards soon followed including one for her painting Head with Bees at the 1996 Discerning Eye Exhibition in London. The Discerning Eye Exhibition differs from many other exhibitions as six selectors (judges) make their choice of small works as their interpretation of the best of contemporary British art and each selected section is hung separately so that there may be a distinct identity with its combination of established and less established or even unknown artists. The Discerning Eye has one limitation and that is the paintings must be small in size giving more artists a chance to exhibit and also allowing the works to be small enough to be bought, carried back under arm and hung in any home or office space. Each judge was asked to pick over half of his selection from less established names. Her painting was selected as winner by artist and art critic, William Packer, one of the six judges/selectors.
In 2005, she won the Welsh Artist of the Year Award.
Her artworks are painstaking in style and much time is spent on the detail and this of course limits her output and thus the number of solo exhibitions she has held. She says she often has a umber of works on the go at the same time. I was fortunate to go to her exhibition the other week at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff, which contained sixteen of herpaintings. Although small in quantity, the quality of the work was excellent and the subjects fascinating.
The one aspect of her work you will soon notice is that she includes herself in most of her paintings!
Not all her paintings feature humour and in two of her works she looks at the state of people’s minds and behaviour when they are experiencing a personal trauma. In two of her works, Beneath Suspicion and Home Histrionics, she looks at the behaviour of people, who we have all come across at some time, people who seem to revel in their catastrophes, to such an extent they almost seem to flourish on it. In a way Home Histrionics ridicules such characters.
When asked whether she based the depictions on somebody she knew, she answered:
“…They are loosely based on a friend of mine who enjoys complex relationships with men and follows a specific pattern of destructive behaviour. She gets herself in these ludicrous situations and seems to relish the drama it creates, when it’s all driven by fake emotion…”
My favourite work by Sally Moore is the quirky painting entitled Captive.
Her work is probably best summed up by her fellow Welshman and Visual Artist, Keith Bayliss, who commented:
“…Sally’s paintings are intriguing, there is a drama being enacted, a story unfolding. Sometimes the stage set is a domestic one, or an everyday scene, a seemingly familiar and therefore reassuring picture. We are drawn in as eager observers, only to realise that we have become participants in the story.
Her work displays an interest in, and a deep knowledge of, three visual art traditions, the Narrative, the Surreal and the Symbolic, marrying all together through her use of highly personal imagery. Her paintings are painstakingly crafted, taking months to produce one glowingly detailed art work. The paintings are icons of magical realism, the known with the mysterious. In making art she is making sense of the world and we, in viewing the work become part of that process, part of the drama…”
But maybe I should leave the last word to the artist herself when she describes what she wants to achieve through her work:
“…Each painting is a mini psychological drama, often absurd, sometimes surreal and invariably humorous. I hope that my paintings may both unsettle and amuse the viewer…”
To find out more about Sally Moore and her art have a look at her website:
and in the “About” page there is a video which she made in 2013 in collaboration with film-maker Mark Latimer entitled The Domestic Surrealist which documents Sally’s thought processes which goes into each of her works of art.