INTERVIEW: Ozzy Wrong talks to scalpel and paper

OW: Please introduce yourself 
SRF: My name is Sarah Redmond-Fareham and I founded scalpel and paper a few years ago when I decided to leave a successful decade teaching art and photography to focus on my own practice. I live in Dorset with my husband, cat Ozzy Wrong and two ducks called Agnes and Frida.
OW: What lead you to Collage?
SRF: I see myself as collector. I graduated from university with a Fine Art Degree specialising in sculpture, whilst studying I was always drawn to mix media pieces which combined elements such as found objects, photography and curiosities that had lived a life before being transformed into a work of art. I have collected weird and wonderful things all my life so it was natural to start assembling these collections into collages that I see as visual constructions where ideas are sometimes resolved in two dimensions and other times in three dimensions.
OW: Where do you find your materials?
SRF: I really enjoy rummaging through second hand bookshops, antique shops and emporiums and have several favourite spots. I read a lot of books and publications which once finished either inspire what I make or often find their way into my pieces. An example of this is The Story of Art by E. H. Gombrich that was given to me by a librarian when I left my teaching position. The book was a key text that you were required to read when I trained to be a teacher but instead of reading it I cut the book up and collaged it and many of the speech bubbles found in my Curious Collection pieces are abstracted from this book.
OW: Tell us about your process?
SRF: I almost always work in series. I usually have the idea first and then explore these concepts visually. I recently had a joint exhibition entitled The Wild and The Domestic with friend and ceramic legend Emily Stracey and the Return to Nature pieces I made for the exhibition were based around concepts of how we need to get back to nature to lead happy, heathy and meaningful lives. Whilst making the pieces I prepared the backgrounds first so they can all be worked on simultaneously. I then find, select and cut the vintage characters that make the focal point to each piece before collecting and pressing a selection of flowers from my garden that will be stitched into the pieces once dried with gold thread. I wanted the pressed flowers to protrude from the characters mind, heart, ear or mouth to open a dialog with the viewer about how we interact with the natural world. Once the compositions are laid out with all their components I often live with the series for a few days in the studio before assembling them to make sure I am happy with each piece and feel they communicates visually what I am thinking, feeling or contemplating.
OW: Where do you find inspiration?
SRF: I can often be found at an exhibition, reading publications, listening to podcasts or watching documentaries about art. I am addicted to The Great Women Artists podcast by Katy Hessel and love listening to how significant artists past and present created their artwork and live their lives. I am really looking forward to the Marina Abramović exhibition at The Royal Academy this month and find it staggering that she will be the first female artist to have a retrospective at the gallery. Many artists inspire my practice and I have been in love with Joseph Cornell’s assemblage sculptures for decades, I love how contemporary collage artist Julie Liger-Belair combines painting with collage and repeats meaningful objects within her pieces and I always return to admire Diane Arbus incredible photographs from the 1960’s.
OW: How do you want others to feel when they view your work?
SRF: I think people often bring their own history to a work of art when viewing it. I hope that when looking at one of my pieces the viewer feels either amused or it inspires the viewer to think, question and respond to the subject matter within the piece. I think using humour to inspire difficult conversations around subjects such as how we treat the environment and climate change can be an interesting way into a serious debate. It is very easy to feel like we are powerless to make any significant change. If art can inspire people to think about how we inhabit and interact with the world I think that is when really exciting change can happen. This is the power of art.
OW: What are you working on at the moment?
SRF: Many of my series are ongoing and I am able to dip in and out of them depending on how I feel when I come to the studio. I am currently working on a series entilted A Walk in the Wild which is a collaboration with my husband. The pieces start by going on a walk, hike or adventure together somewhere interesting. I collect the natural forms throughout the trip, keep them in an old glasses box when walking and cataloging each for safe keeping if we are on a longer trip. When we return to the studio a flat lay is created with the found objects which is then photographed. The pieces are created as an alternative portrait of place and we have created them all over the UK and Europe. 
OW : What do you love most about being a collage artist?
SRF: I think it is really important to makthings with our hands and being a collage artist connects me to a long and rich cultural history of ancestral human beings making objects for pleasure, function, ritual and to leave a record of their existence. I have a postcard in my studio by artist Bob and Roberta Smith that says There is Still Art, There is Still Hope and I really believe in arts capabilities to question, educate, empower and unite us.
OW: What life lessons has being an artist taught you?
SRF: I think you have to be really resilient to be an artist and be happy to lean into the unknown. Great art to my knowledge is not made from a place of comfort and learning to sit with or persevere through difficult times is vital. I recently discussed with a friend whether if we had to choose between a happy life or a meaningful one which would we chose. I think the life of an artist is a meaningful one.
OW: Where can we see your work?
SRF: On Instagram @scalpelandpaper, on my website and in person at The Frome Independent, South Coast Makers Market and Handmade Wimborne alongside a selection of galleries including Walford Mill and The Emporium in Lymington.