Sydney-born, London-based artist Sarah Howell (b. 1976) studied a Bachelor of Fine Arts at University of NSW’s College of Fine Arts and has trained at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, London.
She is a master of mixed media and one of the most in-demand illustrators in Europe. Her layered, computer-manipulated images are as sensual as they are subversive, with a “grunge meets graphic” element and a powerful surreal aesthetic.
As such, Sarah’s images do not adhere to “regulations”: she is a serial breaker of laws of nature, where animals (equines, especially) frolic and frot in technicolour skies. Ink-splatters breed like black algae; two blood-red skulls are joined, playing-card style, with virtual Araldite. These otherworlds are dotted with op-art motifs. Female nudes receive vivid cuts and colours.
She often collaborates with photographers and models in order to obtain exact images with which to work; others are gleaned from her vast collections of old reference books and vintage skin magazines sourced from thrift and antique stores.
Art publisher and author Martin Dawber wrote of Sarah in Pixel Surgeons: Extreme Manipulation of the Figure in Photography: “Sarah’s images succeed as puzzling visual anagrams that freely relish the current creative media platform open to artists…a non-conformist approach to conventional glamor is treated subversively like the DIY persuasion inherent in punk.” She has also exhibited solo in London and is influenced by British artists Richard Hamilton, Peter Blake and John Stezaker, all pioneers of collage-style artmaking in the 20th century.