Sarah Le Brocq’s work looks at tensions between a woman’s perceived place in society and her own sense of identity. How can the experiences of one woman speak to, or for, the experiences of all? The potent theme of relationships between the sexes is interrogated via a personal lexicon of symbolic tropes. In a world in which women are fish out of water: flaccid, docile, even dead, or trying to swim against the current of societal expectation; and men are stalking, staring crows, can we hope to recognize difference and disparity, transcend (en)gendered stereotypes, and create a place of dignity and mutual companionship? The artist invites us to consider striving beyond the straitjacket of convention. In some pieces, she uses metaphor and transcription to examine ingrained beliefs and expectations of a woman’s place and role in society and to try to understand how male/female relationships can reinforce gender stereotypes.
Her use of metaphor and analogy are important in examining these perceived tensions. For example she takes dairy cows out of the milking parlour and places them against backgrounds of Farrow & Ball colours decorated with doilies. The cows’ stark tones jar with the “comfortable” muted colours –the archetypal décor of choice for many – and the associations of domesticity evoked by the doilies. The artist invites the viewer to question this juxtaposition.
The artist’s paintings of children in domestic settings are unsettling, evoking suggestions of vulnerability, and challenging perceptions of traditional family “units”.