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SARAH BALL
'IMMIGRANTS'

2015

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EXHIBITION FOREWORD
 

My attitudes (over time) have placed specific emphasis on the ‘object on the wall’ versus the neutral area of the traditional canvas.

With regards to differences in approach to the external form (‘rounds’ and ‘rectilinears’), present throughout my career and together in this exhibition, I see them both being paintings but with either ‘pacific contours’ or ‘active contours’. In another sense you could say ‘with or without corners‘. The former being more open to implications of depth and implied external space which can freely develop an image, whereas the latter draws attention to it’s own fact and object nature and so is a holistic image in it’s own right. After so many periods of developing both types of work independently, I have found that recently working, once again on a pacific canvas to be a reclaimed freedom, but as a parallel to the slower more considered rounds, but either must generate a revealed presence and the feeling and realisation for that is the reason for working.

Trevor Bell, 2012

 
 

ONLINE CATALOGUE (click below) :

 
 

INTRODUCTION
 

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources - because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.”

Lyndon B. Johnson


For many, Ellis Island is the ultimate symbol of American immigration and the immigrant experience. 

The federal government assumed control of immigration on April 18, 1890, and Congress appropriated $75,000 to construct America’s first Federal immigration station on Ellis Island. 

The first federal immigrant inspection station was an enormous three-story-tall structure, opened on January 1, 1892. About 1.5 million immigrants had been processed at the first building during its five years of use. Between 1905 and 1914, an average of one million immigrants per year arrived in the US. The all-time daily high occurred on April 17, 1907, when 11,747 immigrants arrived. By the time it closed on November 12, 1954, twelve million immigrants had been processed by the U.S. Bureau of Immigration.

Today, over 100 million Americans—or something over about one-third of the population—can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who first arrived in America at Ellis Island before dispersing to points all over the country


Acknowledgements: 

Sarah Ball would like to express her thanks and appreciation to Peter Mesenholler (Museum of Cologne and author of “Augustus F Sherman: Ellis Island Portraits 1905 – 1920” New York: Aperture, 2005), The George Eastman House (Rochester, New York) and Cezar Popescu (The Costica Ascinte Archive, Romania).

Augustus Frederick Sherman worked as a registry clerk at Ellis Island in the years 1892-1925. This untrained photographer created hundreds of images documenting the new arrivals to America. He took photographs of families, groups, and individuals who were being detained either for medical reasons or for further interrogation. In many cases, the subjects were fleeing poverty, natural disaster, and political and religious persecution. 

The ‘Romainian’ images are from a newly rediscovered archive by a largely unknown photographer Costica Acsinte - The Costica Acsinte Archive project’s main objective is the digitization and long term storage of Costica Acsinte’s photographic work (1930 -1950): around 5.000 glass plates negative, a much smaller number of film negative and an unknown number of photographic prints. The subjects of these images were not neccesarily migrants, but are included because the word ‘Romanian’ carries with it a 21st Century stigma which illustrates the potency of the exhibition theme. 

 
 
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BIOGRAPHY :
 

Sarah Ball’s is a British artist born in Yorkshire, England in 1965. She currently lives and works in west Cornwall.

Her practice relies on the gathering of found source material, from newspaper cuttings, archival photographs and historical documentation, including criminal ‘mug shot’ archives. She selects subjects with, and without, known narratives. From these images, Ball paints intricate portraits that re-establish the imagined life of the often anonymous, unknowing sitter. Physiognomy is a primary concern. This supposedly outdated practice, whereby character or a persons morality are decided by the geometries of a face, was a common 19th century method, which dictated that an individual’s appearance was connected to their ethics and character. Sarah Ball’s paintings reflect her intrigue with these concepts and the history of the people she encounters. The painted portraits are placed on a neutral background with space around them, allowing for a metaphorical clean slate so that the viewer can investigate each subject close up in intimate detail with out prejudice. The viewer is compelled to empathise with the subject and draw their own conclusions and perhaps contemplate how we still continue to judge others based on aesthetics and assumption. 

Sarah Ball studied at Newport Art College in the early 80s, followed by a MFA at Bath Spa University from 2003 - 2005. She has exhibited widely and Internationally. Her work has been shown at the Threadneedle Prize, The Royal Academy, Somerset House and The V&A Museum. In 2016 Ball had a solo show at The House of St Barnabas, Soho Square and her work was shown alongside John Currin, Paul Macarthy, Juan Fontanive and Celia Paul in Dallas, USA as a part of Art for Aids TWO x TWO charity auction. She has held four solo exhibitions at Anima-Mundi. Works are included in collections worldwide. Sarah Ball is represented by Anima-Mundi

 

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