Show and Tell #20 - Sadie Lee
Sadie Lee is an artist best known for her feminist pieces. She’s also the curator of ‘In Your Face: Queer Artists' Versions of Themselves’ exhibition that we’re hosting until 4 November.
Sadie grew up in Yorkshire, England, the family moving to Surrey when she was fourteen. She was a Fine Art student at Epsom School of Art in 1986 and later studied mural painting and marbling at the Hackney Institute. She is a club promoter and DJ and hosts Lower the Tone – a club for people who hate clubs in North London. She lives and works in London. She lists the following influences on her website:
1970's lounge kitsch culture
1960's drug induced psychosis
1950's american picket fence voyeurism
Sadie won the BP Travel award and spent time in Los Angeles studying American former striptease legends which became the series of portraits entitled 'Ladies of the Burlesque'. Her imaginative paintings were first bought to the wider public attention when her double portrait 'ERECT' was selected for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in 1992. The image - two severe looking women sitting with arms interlocked glaring back at the viewer - was produced as a print to advertise the annual BP Award, within weeks 5,000 copies of the poster had completely sold out. The same year Sadie captured media attention as organiser and curator of the ambitious project 'Exposing Ourselves.' The aim of the London-based show was to bring together the diverse talents of over 60 international artists.
As well as showing almost annually at the National Portrait Gallery, Sadie has had several one woman shows nationally and abroad. These include 'Venus Envy' at Manchester City Art Gallery and 'A Dying Art' - Ladies of the Burlesque' at the National Portrait Gallery (this was the result of winning the BP travel award and toured the UK for a year). Sadie also had an exhibition entitled 'Don't Look' at the Gallery of Modern Art, Slovenia when she was selected as British Representative in the international contemporary art festival.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
On the very rare occasion of having had a full-night’s dreamless sleep, that brief moment before remembering all the things that would usually keep me awake at night.
What lies at the heart of your own desire to do your creative work?
Probably some kind of obsessive compulsive disorder
What are the first things you do in developing an idea in response to a subject?
What’s your favourite film and why?
Currently ‘The Duke of Burgundy’ directed by Peter Strickland. It’s beautifully shot, funny, disturbing, provocative, has a fantastic soundtrack and contains the fetishistic wearing of pussy-bow blouses.
Choose 1, 2 or 3 of your all-time favourite music tracks.
I’m not good at lists, but for very personal reasons
‘Walk on the Wild Side’ by Lou Reed,
‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ by Mamas & The Papas
‘Imagine Me, Imagine You’ by Fox
From your favourite poem – could you give us a few lines that mean something to you?
‘My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night.
But ah my foes and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light.’
First Fig by Edna St. Vincent Millay
If you were to die and come back as a person, animal or a thing, what would it be?
A cure for cancer. Or a sloth. Can I be both?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Living in London
What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Defiant beauty, despite everything
Which artwork/film/book has most inspired you?
By accident, I once saw a repeat of an episode from a 1970’s series called ‘Civilization’, about the history of Western Art, presented by the historian Kenneth Clarke. It was all about the ‘male gaze’ in regard to (particularly) women in art throughout history. It was a real penny-dropping moment.
I only use my computer as a kind of typewriter, I try not to look at screens for fun
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.
Piece of equipment you can’t live without?
Are spectacles ‘equipment’? I’m becoming increasingly reliant on them.
Best recent read?
I have a 5 year old so I don’t get time to read. I read the first page of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. Two months ago.
What is your final word?