Sarah Ball’s practice relies on the gathering of found source material, from newspaper cuttings, archival photographs and historical documentation, including criminal ‘mug shot’ archives. She selects subjects with, and without, known narratives. From these images, Ball paints intricate portraits that re-establish the imagined life of the often anonymous, unknowing sitter. Physiognomy is a primary concern. This supposedly outdated practice, whereby character or a persons morality are decided by the geometries of a face, was a common 19th century method, which dictated that an individual’s appearance was connected to their ethics and character. Sarah Ball’s paintings reflect her intrigue with these concepts and the history of the people she encounters. The painted portraits are placed on a neutral background with space around them, allowing for a metaphorical clean slate so that the viewer can investigate each subject close up in intimate detail without prejudice. The viewer is compelled to empathise with the subject and draw their own conclusions and perhaps contemplate how we still continue to judge others based on aesthetics and assumption.
Sarah Ball studied at Newport Art College in the early 80s, followed by a MFA at Bath Spa University from 2003 - 2005. She has exhibited widely and internationally. Her work has been shown at the Threadneedle Prize, The Royal Academy, Somerset House and The V&A Museum. In 2016 Ball had a solo show at The House of St Barnabas, Soho Square and her work was shown alongside John Currin, Paul Macarthy, Juan Fontanive and Celia Paul in Dallas, USA as a part of Art for Aids TWO x TWO charity auction. Works are included in collections worldwide. Sarah Ball is represented by Anima-Mundi in the UK and Conduit USA.
Sarah Ball, born 1965, currently lives and works in west Cornwall.