Curated by Esen Kaya
Sabina Sallis’ practice investigates complex entanglement between human knowledge and the environment and speculates about an evolving aesthetics of embedded sensitivity towards life. For Sabina Sallis, drawing is the bedrock of her artistic enquiry and is a tool that brings forth the transformative power of imagination. Drawing is the way to think, to be with the world, to draw from life; the other, the unknown and the unseen are spontaneously harnessed to shape, explore, and connect ideas and phenomena as they unfold. Drawing is an impulse that can transform our encounter with the world.
Drawing Close; Voynich Series is an expansion and an iteration of new and previous works that use the Voynich Manuscript as a method in a non-static state; as a particular modus operandi for visionary alternatives. The Voynich Manuscript is a medieval illustrated codex that has been written in an unknown language and it’s an object of continuous research and multiple hypotheses. In Sabina’s work The Voynich Manuscript is used as an opening to the possibilities of alternative ways of thinking, and alternative states of being without being doctrinal. As well as attempting to decipher and imaginatively interpret the Voynich Manuscript, Drawing Close; Voynich Series also attempts to bring forward knowledges and thoughts that are enmeshed with life processes and invites the audience to decipher their own meaning.
Sabina Sallis has a multifaceted approach to arts provision- as a researching, collaborating and exhibiting artist and as a curator. Sabina uses drawing, video, performance, sculpture and narrative in a multimedia transdisciplinary approach that interweaves fact and fiction.
Sallis graduated in 2005 from University of Arts, Poznan, with a MA in Fine Art. Currently Sabina is a recipient of Research Excellent Academy scholarship and is undertaking practice-led PhD which researches Aesthetics of Sustainability: critical multi-media arts practice and visions for a sustainable future at School of Fine Arts, Newcastle University. Sabina participated in over 30 solo and group exhibitions internationally.
This exhibition marks the final one curated by Esen Kaya, The Customs House’s Gallery Curator for ten years. In that time, she curated over 130 exhibitions of work by regional, national and international artists, bringing high profile, engaging, inspiring and at times, challenging contemporary visual art to audiences in South Tyneside. She also devised and led on many exemplar community engagement projects most notably Flagged Up in 2007, I See Colour in 2008, Casting Off…A Coat For A Boat in 2009, A Grand Tour in 2010 and Foghorn Requiem in 2013 and Follow The Herring in 2014. Esen initiated, developed and managed drawing? in 2015 with the region’s universities, co-curating a programme of exhibitions and events across the North East with Professor. Mike Collier from the University of Sunderland and with over 20 partner organisations. She is now moving on to develop the next phase of DRAWING.
The title of the show Drawing Close, relates to Esen Kaya’s departure and the closing of the Gallery in March 2018. The Customs House will continue to provide visual arts provision through a learning and engagement programme, devise community projects and invite artists to show in the space until it is redeveloped into a multi-purpose function suite. The title also references the artist’s intimate drawing methodology within her practice and ‘Drawing Close’ her ideas inspired by the beguiling and magical Voynich Manuscript.