Woodfine’s new body of work touches both on our mainstream ideas about moral behaviour – what is good, right, desirable and true, and upon repressed or otherwise obscured drives, intentions or beliefs. These “drawing-sculptures” – for they are both these things at one and the same time – operate at a level that is realistic though imaginary, being pictures formed of natural elements distended or distorted so as to assume a fantastic otherness, a striking strangeness that simultaneously seduces and repels. An alchemical transformation ceaselessly enacts itself before the viewer’s eyes, broken off branches become serpents, a snake becomes a rope, and human hair reconstitutes itself as a clutch of vipers writhing on the head of the Medusa. If the onlooker is ostensibly here turned to stone, then it is the alchemist’s “Philosopher’s Stone” that is also suggested here, a state of grace conveyed to the viewer, at least as a model or ideal to which one may assiduously aspire.
IMAGE CREDIT: Sarah Woodfine, “Forever and ever,” 2015, pencil on paper.