Her practice relies on the gathering of found source material, from newspaper cuttings, archival photographs historical documentation, including criminal ‘mug shot’ archives and immigration archives and more recently social media. 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 This supposedly outdated practice, whereby character or morality are decided by the geometries of a face, was a common 19th century method, which dictated that an individual’s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 upon 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. 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. Works are included in collections worldwide including The Rachofsky Collection and the British Museum permanent collection.
Sarah Ball is represented by Anima Mundi where she has held five solo exhibitions to date.