Sarah Fraser studied visual arts at the University of South Africa. After working in further education with adults with learning difficulties and disabilities for over ten years, she has shifted to combining her practice as an artist with studio-based community work over the past 3 years. Since 2019, Fraser has worked in Stoke-on-Trent, leading on a community co-production project of Staffordshire flatback figurines; conceptualising and delivering and arts and health projects (on and offline); and collaborating with the Portland Inn Project fellowship project in 2020.
In 2018, Sarah co-founded the shared studio, Manchester Ceramics Collective with Sarah Baines, Matt Cronshaw, Sarah Crosby and Rebecca Morris which provides ceramic workshop space for 13 ceramicists.
I am an artist who works mainly with clay. Over the past year, the focus of my work has shifted from object production to the process of working with people and clay. Clay, one of the most exciting mediums to explore, not only its essential elemental materiality, but how it is transformed by energy. The physical energy of movement, force, heat; and the mental energy of memory, thoughts and ideas directing the hands of the persons working with it. It is concrete and grounding but remains flexible and full of potential.
My practice includes planning and delivering workshops and engagement activities, maintaining and running studios and making work individually and collaboratively, I have started to view this as different aspects of the same ideas. By transforming the clay we can experience a transformation.
Cleaning a studio, processing the clay, taking care of the work, sharing skills and building relationships are all ways of showing care and attention. This energy and focus is the spark which transforms: order from chaos and slowly through an iterative process of paying attention things start to shift.
I find repetitive processes ideal for reflecting and meditating on questions, approaching the creative work as a way of developing knowledge in a tactile, sensory way which may also include measuring, weighing and taking stock, listing and cataloguing.
In a project with called ‘Clay Works’ with Changes Health and Wellbeing (a user-led organisation) and the British Ceramics Biennial (2019), clay and mental health were explored in an open-ended and responsive way. This project represented a shift in my thinking about how to work with people on a process, rather than a fixed outcome.