Viewpoint

Grant Museum foyer mural

From 18th March 2013

Artist Sarah Cameron from the UCL Slade School of Fine Art was commissioned to develop a huge mural for the Grant Museum's foyer. What she came up with was a trompe l'oeil of a museum cabinet filled with our objects.

"I have used perspective illusion experimentally, to open up a space in the architecture of a foyer that would otherwise have remain locked in the confines of solid matter. Creating an illusion is an engaging and seductive exercise but it also serves the purpose of enticing the viewer, in a quest to align and distort the illusion, to a position of questioning, where it emerges that this is not just a straightforward trompe l’oeil. What I am occupied with is a dichotomy, between the illusion of picturing and the reality of the subjective experience of the image and its material construction.

Beyond the point of the concept of illusion and its intrigue, the painting is not deeply involved with issues of deception. In fact, by allowing the viewer to step between the point of illusion and the obvious realisation of marks, drips and layers, I am conversely drawing attention to the construction of image and questioning what it means to make one - in paint.

The anamorphic point of view is indicative of the individual nature of my experience of the collection and suggests an experience that runs parallel to the zoological museum’s perceived role, serving the pursuit of taxonomic investigation. On a subjective level, the collection, invested with cultural and historical significance, modifies according to its viewer; as a painter, however, I am interested in conveying my search for the point where experiences and memories converge and can be understood collectively.

When I paint I do not use grids, digital tools or mathematical formulas, I paint from eye alone. I paint almost entirely from memory, building on a personal history with an object or place. Far from trying to impersonate nature I revel in the formal process of positioning, judging and redefining within the frame of painting, and acknowledge the limitations of my ability to manipulate a fluid medium. In making paintings I am always chasing autonomy and within this endless pursuit, the chance of creating something that can hold the viewer’s interest for longer than a fleeting moment in time."

Sarah wrote a blog post about her time at the Grant Museum. Read it here.

This commission was part of a larger project "Kingdom in a Cabinet" generously funded by the DCMS Wolfson Museums and Galleries Improvement Fund.