Ferrier has a penchant for Baroque and Dutch still life, which is evidenced in his work. Yet, influences such as the films The L-Shaped Room, Saturday Night Sunday Morning, the musician Morrissey, and artists such as Gregory Crewdson and Caravaggio are also evident throughout.
The four series of photographs on display in this exhibition all relate to recent happenings in his life, including the loss of a loved one. As a promise to his late wife, and to ensure that his young son would always have a clear understanding of his mother, the images portray personal possessions, questions raised and an attempt to explain the unknown.
Ferrier’s photographs are staged with absolute minute detail, with so many intricacies, that you will see new things in each image, months after your first viewing. They are alive with so much colour, life and movement, that you feel you can reach right in and grab them. Each image sits in a grand, ornate frame, unglazed and with a mat finish, to give the impression of classical paintings.
Usually, local artists exhibit on The Civic’s Panorama space, but here, Sacha Ferrier exhibits in the main gallery. Not only a first for The Civic, but one of the finest exhibitions The Civic has hosted in five years.
I met with Sacha at The Civic, prior to the opening of his debut exhibition Transience, where he explained to me some of the inspirations and stories behind a number selected works on show.“I always wanted to do an image for my wife. Grief is a huge shadow, and it sits with you until its ready to move. Up until this point, everything in my head was images chopped liver, maggots, decay and lots of anger. I had to wait for that cloud to pass, and then I made this first image Transience.
When Kerry passed away, her bedside table at home had on it a pack of sweets, her medicine, a book, a lamp and other normal little things. I couldn’t touch them and I left them for maybe three or four months; thick with dust. I decided that I had to do something with them, so I photographed them quickly and then cleared them away. I still have that photograph and it’s very personal to me. That gave me the idea for this image. So this is based on the bedside table of a dying woman.
Within it, the symbolism is the closed flowers and the syringes pulling out the life from the flowers. She had to say goodbye to our child, so there is the Virgin Mary in there, representing the bond between mother and child. A screwed up ‘with sympathy’ card, as she refused to accept death.
Knitting represents time. When you’re terminally ill, one of the big things is waiting, the passing of time and boredom.
Although inspired by Baroque and Dutch still life, I have invited you, the viewer, to have a peek inside my own personal life. It’s not the start or the end; it’s mid-point, so it doesn’t feel intrusive.”
When you talk about the initial images you had of maggots and decay. Would you have ever photographed that, or was that something you had to move away from?
“There is a number of images that nobody has seen. I needed to find a way to let the grief out. I used to come home from work, put Chester to bed and set up a scene. Technically they are awful. They’re some of the first I did, but the content is quite disturbing or emotional. I did a series of images where I bandaged my head up completely, and then I would dress in my finery and I would stand doing the ironing. That was to show that life has to go on, and that although I might look good on the outside, in my three-piece suit, in my head I wasn’t quite right. I had some of me sat down to a meal with them head bandaged, and other mundane scenarios. Those images will no doubt surface one day.”This image is of home – Barnsley. I moved north in 1997, to Chesterfield. When I met my wife we moved to Barnsley. We didn’t know anybody but Barnsley welcomed us. Barnsley has looked after me. I had a lot of support here, especially from the [Barnsley] Hospice.
Everything about this picture is Barnsley. In here you have miner’s lamps, Barnsley beer, miner’s strike cuttings. It’s strange for me, because when I was little and living down south, sat on the curb licking my Fab lolly, I never realised what you were going through up here during the miner’s strikes. It wasn’t until I started to look into it and research that I got a real respect and admiration for the people of Barnsley and how they fought for their livelihoods.
I like to think now that I’m a local and this image is for Barnsley.
“I also have a series of Caravaggio images. It’s not as though I dislike the NHS, but for me, I was angry. It felt like Kerry went into hospital and was just churned out the other side. So these images, using Caravaggio, are about a patients admission into hospital, and his journey through to the end. I know is seems a bit harsh mocking the NHS, but for me, it is just another way of documenting an experience and putting a lid on it.”“I’m fascinated by how, when you walk through your front door, if you bend down to pick up a penny, that could affect the rest of your day. I wanted to do something that shows how wrong decisions can create a certain path for you.
Each of these are portraits represent different people and scenarios; winning the lottery, hanging around with the wrong people, debts, pay-day loans, gambling, burglary, prison and homelessness. They are based on Hogarth’s Rake’s Progress. He only did eight plates, but I’ve added a few others.
I’ve taken his stance on things like gambling, loose women etcetera, but I had to make them relevant to today. So, although they still look classic, they are very modern and relevant to everyday people today.” “The final set of works are about religion. When you looks at religious works of art, as good-looking as they are, I find it hard to connect, as they are all based in, what… the fifteenth century. Although I always adored them and respected them, I’m fascinated by how people look upon religion as a source of comfort , guidance, community, and I wanted to see what religion can look like now. What would the Immaculate Conception look like now, seeking enlightenment, the crucifixion, Judas? So these are all biblical stories, but set in your front room.
What I like about these, are the little things you can’t control. I staged this photograph of a levitation. My son was hiding in the front of the car, underneath the dashboard while the photo was being taken. At the point I took the picture, he popped his head up to see what was going on. I kept that, because it makes the image. Her levitating there, and then you see the boy gazing at her. Is it he levitating her or is he just watching? It’s one of my favourites.”
SACHA FERRIER: TRANSIENCE @ THE CIVIC, BARNSLEY
FRI 7th MARCH – SATURDAY 3rd MAY
Artist-Led Talk with Sacha takes place at The Civic on Saturday 22nd March, at 2pm.
Admission is 2pm. More info here.