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emerging artist

emerging artist

Sarah Firth
emerging artist

robot kindie

There is something strangely pathetic (in the true sense of the word) about Sarah Firth’s kinetic sculpture Emerging Artist. As it frenetically squirms away, producing artwork after artwork, you feel compelled to go up and give it a hug, tell it that it’s all okay, all its hard work will one day be recognised—one day the world will see the beauty, intellect and instinct of its creations and it will emerge as an ARTIST! This empathy is surprising as the actions of the work’s multiple arms, with shiny wet black coating, are reminiscent of the things of nightmares—giant crawling insects, or those fairytale trees that come to life in dark woods ready to strangle you. Perhaps it’s the potbelly torso, or the washing machine swivelling and wriggling motion that elicits such a gentle response. Maybe it’s the quiet, rhythmic, clicking sounds that its mechanisms produce, or the fluid swirl of the primitive claws holding permanent markers scrawling on the multiple sheets of paper surrounding it. Or could it be the sculpture’s work ethic? Rejecting the lure of personality and networking as ways to get known, Emerging Artist knows only how to work: the relentless, almost autistic pursuit of the creative act. And the results are seriously intriguing—not just random squiggles. Rather, it seems that the machine's clawing hands explore a range of techniques from precise, diagrammatic constructions to delicate dot and line accumulations; from deep black, obsessive blotches, to wild, lyric scribblings. Constructed in a remarkably short period of time Sarah Firth’s Emerging Artist is incisive and beguiling with technical and conceptual elements in a fine balance. Not only that, it’s damn cute! I wouldn’t mind a small version of my own as a kind of pet/art hybrid.
Gail Priest

Sarah Firth

Sarah Firth

My kinetic sculpture Emerging Artist was created in two weeks during the Performing Objects and Machines Workshop for the Volta project facilitated by Joey Ruigrok van der Werven. As a site-specific piece I was interested in responding to the history, current usage and psychological space of CarriageWorks. The fragments of information and juxtapositions outside and within the space inspired me to make a manic drawing tree, that wheeled around in a high chair scrawling onto layers of paper spread across the concrete floor.

The internals of the tree comprise welded steel rod to house the three polarity switch mechanisms circuited to 12v batteries and switches, which control the six drawing branches. The tree moves around in its highchair driven by wheels welded to windscreen wiper mechanisms operated by a remote control adapted to switch the wheels on and off. I bound the structure in foam sheets and electrical tape to give it softness and flexibility allowing for unpredictable movements and swaying which varies not only the drawings it produces but also the direction it drives.


“I find the world constantly beautiful and absurd, oscillating between great tenderness and uncertainty. My is work driven by the desire to establish an unique vocabulary to make sense of the world and reaffirm my humanity and experience.”

Sarah Firth graduated with Honours from the Sculpture workshop at the ANU School of Art in 2006. In 2005 Firth’s kinetic sculpture work was selected for 25/25: Australia’s top 25 artists aged 25 and under. She was also an Australian representative for the first Asian Art Camp, the international artist collaborative symposium and exhibition held on Palau Ubin Island and in Singapore. Her work ranges from large installations and kinetic sculptures to tender illustrations exploring the everyday and daydreams. Currently she is working towards two exhibitions and is collaborating with performers and writers to produce a dance and theatre piece for the Canberra Fringe Festival and puppet shows such as Eat Me When I’m Fatima.