Sarah Danays is a Los Angeles based British sculptor and photographer whose work is inspired by gesture and antiquities - notably broken ones.

Her practice involves extensive research into an object's history and context to develop new interpretations for significant museum pieces, and to inform the "treatment" of broken objects from her own collection.

Here fragments of sacred and secular antiques, previously separated by different countries, cultures, centuries and religions are intermingled with marvels from nature and her own marble and alabaster carvings - or work of past anonymous sculptors - to create a unique fusion of energies and symbols.

These assemblages are then meticulously photographed, their chromogenic documentation achieving a powerful merger of contemporary amulet and archived artifact.


"Danays effects such radical juxtaposition with such remarkable craft." Peter Frank, US Art Critic


Danaysʼ isolated limbs rise above the personal to become universal emblems. The unclothed body part stripped of all that might link it to a historical period becomes timeless. These pieces, in their stillness, speak not only of damage and loss - physical, psychological - but also of rebuilding, through their conspicuous repair and new associations. In combining the human with the non-human Danaysʼ metaphysical surgery creates entities that are altogether new and whole.

Arms and hands are a particular focus, where unregulated gesture is highly emotive and psychologically charged - in the angle of a wrist, or the kink of a finger, a novel is contained. Danaysʼ stone sculptures reduce complex shapes to their simplest form. Her mysterious limbs may be anatomically impossible, but their strange proportions are capable of expressing and evoking great emotion.

As with her objects, the materials she works with are chosen with care to function as metaphors in their own right. In 2007 Danays moved from soft, textile-based sculpture to resistant materials, notably stone due to its historical resonance and innate integrity.

Only hand tools are used for her direct-carved sculptures. A thoughtful and disciplined practice, it is of no surprise that Socrates, the founder of Western philosophy, was a master mason and sculptor. The combination of rational, problem solving concentration and abstract thought to imagine and determine the spacial route through a block of stone is immense and all-absorbing.

By way of counter to the ancient techniques of her stone work, Danays uses sophisticated photographic equipment and methods to capture her carvings and objects with painterly resolution, creating images as arresting at 3 inches as at 30 feet. In this way she plays not only with scale, but societyʼs perception of, and relationship with, reality.

The long journey to create each sculpture and its photographic counterpart, from hand-carving to 21st century image-making, starts with Platoʼs Theory of Forms, pays homage to Baudrillardʼs Hyperreality and embraces Harmansʼ Object-Orientated Ontology.


"More than anything Sarah Danays' work impresses me because of its ability to gain sweeping significance
through a meticulous care for detail applied to idiosyncratic particulars."

Dr Ken Arnold, Creative Director, Wellcome Trust, London and Medical Museion, Copenhagen

 

The Artist

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