Sarah Dugan has achieved so much and she’s still a spring chicken… Born and bred in Walgett, this pocket rocket is going from strength to strength…read on for more…
Hello, what is your name and how old are you?
Hi, my name is Sarah Dugan and I am 24.
Much of your work is around exploring landscapes; the physical, the psychological and the cultural…how do you think your upbringing in Walgett has impacted your work?
My work is entirely about my childhood and growing up on a property. It has just developed into something more universal. At the base of all my work is the need to dissect and understand our landscape as a cultural and spiritual entity. I have found that this need has developed from my fascination with my family history, the property and my upbringing. When I’m looking for inspiration I nearly always think of myself as a child exploring the bush and try to see the landscape and the work through those eyes. The landscapes of my childhood were always very mysterious and exciting, both foreboding and a welcoming playground.
You are very active and involved in the Walgett arts community, what have you been up to?
I have run workshops and programs with the Walgett Library, Lightning Ridge Library and the Walgett Youth Centre, working with young kids on various projects. These range from drawing classes to public art programs. I have also been involved with the Walgett Bulldust to Bitumen Festival running photography classes and I’m looking forward to being involved in more this year.
You have recently been accepted into the Red Gate Residency program which will send you to Beijing…tell us about that!
So the Red Gate Residency gives artists of all disciplines the opportunity to live, explore and make work in China. I think it will be super challenging and a great opportunity to learn and explore new cultures. I have proposed to make a book of photos and drawings exploring fragments of stories from the streets of Beijing. I want to give glimpses of Beijing culture through snapshots and sketches.
You originally studied photography, but have moved more towards installation work…what is your preferred medium and why?
I guess I consider myself to be photography and film based which always seems to be the base of my installations but I often work with other mediums such as drawing and at the moment I’m even embroidering over photos. The medium isn’t really important to me, the most important part is the overall execution and how it is presented, which explains why they become installations.
A lot of people think you need to be city-based to make it in the art world, what would you say the advantages are of being a regional-based artist?
There are a lot of benefits of being regional based if you are involved. Firstly there is less competition for gallery opportunities. Regional galleries can have amazing vast spaces and they are more approachable. As regional artists we also receive a lot of grant and scholarship support such as the Young Regional Artist Scholarship.
What else have you been up to?
I have been working on a lot of projects! Large scale aerial drawings, photographs of the desert covered in embroidery and a series of lightbox sculptures and skyscape photographs exploring the Australian void.
How would you describe your style?
I’m not really sure because I feel like it changes from project to project… I would like to think my work is visceral, spacious, large scale.
Why do you think it’s important to provide creative outlets and opportunities for people, especially in regional areas?
Art is only possible and accessible with support. It takes a lot of work to put together an artwork let alone a show. Other than funding support we need networks to talk through ideas and brainstorm shows, classes and programs to keep learning and improving. As well as places to exhibit all our hard work. Art isn’t an easy career, despite the stereotype; its mentally and financially exhausting as an emerging artist. We need to snap up every opportunity to make that breakthrough into a successful career. It’s easy to become socially and artistically isolated in regional areas, easy to be forgotten. To keep a presence in the art world we really need to push our exposure by using these opportunities.
What have you got coming up?
I have a few shows in the making, including the results of the Red Gate Residency. I shall keep you posted on dates!
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I would probably be very sad, a lot richer, but pretty miserable.
Where can we see more of your stuff?
You can see some of my work in the Outback Arts five years birthday group show and you can always check out my work on www.sarah-dugan.com
Lastly, Beatles or the Stones?
Beatles. So hard to choose but I think have to go Beatles.