Head On a Plate

Sarah Kent and Sharon Leahy-Clark

Exhibtion 27 – 30 October 2022

Live Drawing Event: 27 October 5:30pm – 7pm followed by a private view 7 – 9pm


‘Head on a Plate Projects‘ (HOPP”) is an on-going collaboration between artists Sarah Kent and Sharon Leahy-Clark, which celebrates the vibrant creativity and joyous intelligence of older women. We are keen to combat the invisibility of older women both in art and in society in general. We are putting ourselves in the frame as creative beings demonstrating the power and pleasure of creativity with a live drawing event, which the public is invited to watch and to influence by their sheer presence. Using a variety of materials – from charcoal to inks, pastels, nail varnish and anything else that comes to hand – we work on sheets of paper so large they become spaces for immersive action rather than objects for contemplation. Working spontaneously at the same time as one another, we continually move around the paper, getting in close to concentrate on the marks and gestures we are making.

As we work, we talk; this helps us to focus on the activity rather than the outcome – to see the drawing as process rather than product. Working this way makes it difficult to judge the work aesthetically and since we constantly interfere with one another’s contributions anyway, there’s no opportunity to get precious. The results – unpolished, raw and immediate – are different to anything either of us would produce on our own. Not only is this extremely exciting, but it democratizes the process of drawing and makes it accessible to others as an enjoyable activity available to all.

Thousands of words have been written by Linda Nochlin, Germain Greer and others concerning the exclusion of women from the cannon. And many artists from Carolee Schneemann onwards have used their bodies in performances that reclaim the territory by exploring their roles as models, muses and autonomous creative beings. Remarkably little attention has been given, though, to the invisibility of older women. We are rarely acknowledged to exist either as subjects or objects! Tate Britain, for instance, has only one painting on display featuring a mature woman – David Hockney’s’ My Parents, 1977.

HOPP are not interested in being merely models or muses, though. Our goal is to be visible and to have agency. We want to demonstrate the creative power of older women as artists and, thereby, to inspire others. Guided by a desire to open-up, explore, challenge, and take risks we have chosen to work live in front of an audience. This makes us vulnerable but, more importantly, makes the work accessible. The process of art making is laid bare and the hierarchical relationship inherent in its creation is challenged.

Alongside HOPP, we both have successful practices. Sarah Kent is an artist/performer, critic and curator. In Yves Klein Reply (Ryder Projects, London 2015) she made a clothed response to the French artist’s exploitation of naked models.

Sharon Leahy-Clark is an artist based at the Centre for Recent Drawing (C4rD), a drawing tutor and has exhibited nationally and internationally.

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