Sarah Maple’s exhibition

20120221-173005.jpg Promising Crawley-based artist Sarah Maple launched a successful exhibition of her work entitled ‘It’s A Girl!” at the Aubin Gallery in London on Thursday 9 February, with scores of admirers turning out to celebrate the next step of her career.
Having won the ‘4 new sensations’ competition run by Charles Saatchi in the same year as graduating from Kingston University in 2007, the 27-year-old has been tipped for greatness from a young age, and if the turnout at the gallery in trendy Shoreditch was anything to go by, then we will be hearing a lot more of Maple’s name in the near future.
Maple thanked those that came to her show, exclaiming that the “amazing support (was) overwhelming.” Maple was recently described as “…the heir to Tracey Emin’s throne… The best of the new young British artists” by The Independent On Sunday, and it was hard not to be impressed by Maple’s direct-yet-playful style of confronting issues that she believes to be important today.
While she has encountered controversy by focusing her work on religion before, this show dealt predominantly with the issues of gender, sex and the representation of femininity in the media. Of particular emphasis was her Disney-themed lightbox series, in which Maple dresses as various Disney heroines in contemporary vocations, subverting the traditional view that princesses need to be ‘saved’ by an archetypal hero. Local venues were used in a number of the pictures, including Belle of ‘Beauty And The Beast’ managing a match at Broadfield Stadium, while Horsham County Court played host to Jasmine of Aladdin as a judge.
The fact that Maple uses herself in the majority of her work opens her up to criticism in a way that perhaps doesn’t befall other artists; indeed, her work has been attacked for relying “…purely on her being attractive and Muslim”, yet she actually uses this anonymous quote on her site alongside more favourable ones, acknowledging it as somewhat of a backhanded compliment. The strength in her approach is that it offers a powerful visual presence of ‘Sarah Maple’ the artist, while the message behind her work seeps through simultaneously.
If her latest exhibition was a sign of things to come for Maple, then Crawley has a rising star on its hands.
Sarah Maple’s – It’s A Girl! is at the Aubin Gallery until March 9 2012.
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