margot sanders

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Artist Statement

My main focus of interest is in the origins of the oral tradition and the associated folklore, particularly in how these tales were passed down and changed over time. Some of my characters are taken directly from folk tales, while others are my own interpretation and are also taken from my own imagination. Previously I have considered tales from Greek myth and while I still do I now have evolved and extended my timeline of the oral tradition and myth. These currently include earlier legends particularly that of the story of the great flood or Deluge mythology through tales such as the biblical Noah’s Ark and the Mesopotamian texts of the Epic of Gilgamesh. The flood itself evokes the theme of the body, almost a cluster of bodies both human and animal, man and woman a theme that has remained a fundamental part within my practice. This has developed and carried through into the landscape painting entitled The Sleepers, 2008. The bodies are beautifully washed ashore or the water has gradually seeped away leaving the bodies to gleam in the subtle mist of light that is their painted world. Paint as well as my gesture and activity of paint have now evolved into this framework, both acknowledging the identity of paint itself and the history it carries.


Paint gives greater freedom in manipulation of the subject, the creatures are free to roam in their own world. Painting is associated with its own history as are the folktales which I manipulate, reinterpret or sometimes dismiss and create new ones. Paint as does folklore can be actively manipulated. These fictional characters and the fiction they are held within can live in the realm of paint as their own world of creation, while being separate to this world of ours. Artists that have been a point of reference particularly are Titian, Goya and Courbet’s The Painter’s studio, 1855.


Previously I have focused on the combination of the animal and human. Currently I am dividing these two elements and creating works with the absence of the human and the animal has now dominated as the main subject. However, this mainly keeps both elements away from directly interacting and in most cases, I am curious with what or who is absent. The characters have kept some elements of existing folklore tales but in some cases are completely contained within their own fiction. In for example Ladyskin, 2007 the animal element has become completely absent but now she is a young woman peeling away her own skin. Referring to folktales such as Hans My Hedgehog and Vasilisa the Wise (or Frog Princess) where these characters themselves remove or peel off their animal skins to reveal beautiful humans underneath. However, in contrast I have created Ladyskin where the character herself is removing her skin and revealing her own flesh.

May in the green bathroom, 2010, acrylic on paper, 21 x 14.5 cm