Sarah R Key

Sarah Key was born in Derbyshire in 1971, she is an internationally recognised artist and studied a BA in Fine Art with the University of Derby in 1999, followed by an MA in Fine Art: Painting with the Wimbledon School of art and finally a PHD with Loughborough University in 2008. Key is currently exploring abstract narratives through drawing however, I will be focusing on some of her earlier work where she merged human life forms with animals between 2008-2013.

Everything in its right place, 2010, 160x130cms

Key’s work uses hybridisation and transformation with various animals in order to explore the human condition and behaviours. We can determine that there appears to be human-like forms in the paintings but there is a disturbing undertone with these humans morphing into animals and acting out these scenes. In particular the scene above seems to be quite disturbing. Is the animal-human hybrid crouched over awaiting some kind of beating or disciplinary action, whilst the tallest character holds a very unthreatening balloon. All the whilst seemingly a little girl dressed in pastel pink looks on rather sheepishly to watch the scene unfold. The title “Everything in its right place” indicates this is how the scene should be but it feels like quite a dangerous or ominous scene.

Black Stump Lodge, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 75x60cm

Again Key’s paintings seem to evoke this feeling of sadness, loss or danger. These two animal hybrids appear to be possibly morning the death of a child, yet the title is focused on the architecture of the building behind them. The perceived child also seems empty inside as the mother is possibly just clasping onto the strange mammals mask missing the child inside. I find Key’s work very provoking and evocative in how she transforms these animal-human hybrids into small stories depicting characters personalities or personas and marrying humans and animals together.

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