Artist Interview: Sarah Jeffs

Sarah experiments with photographic techniques under constructed studio conditions to create beautiful and mysterious objects and scenes. Her ‘Crystalline Planets Series’ represent microcosms of the immense expanses of space. The technique she employs involves long exposure photography of amethyst, quartz and crystal geode. Layered and lit in different ways and combined with photo montage they create distinctive and unique new realities. Representations of the vast and epic are in juxtaposition with a process that takes place under constructed studio conditions. In depicting the collision of elements that forms a cosmic event, Sarah recreates the epic on a miniature scale.

Antlers are proud to be displaying her ‘Crystalline Planets Series’ in their current exhibition ‘Spatial’ at 7-9 Temple Studios from the 26th July – 10th August 2013, 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday – Sunday. We asked Sarah a few questions to learn more about her work and her creative method.

Artemis - Sarah Jeffs - Fuji Flex Paper - 50 x 50cm - £280

Artemis – Sarah Jeffs – Fuji Flex Paper – 50 x 50cm – £280

What projects have you been working on recently?

Things are very busy at the moment, one of my most recent projects ‘Crystalline Planet Series’ are a set of seven montage pieces. They use long exposure photographs of crystals to represent space and large-scale cosmic events. I am so excited that Antlers are showing them in their latest project Spatial with four other fantastic artists from different disciplines.

I have also just finished a project called ‘Tea Blossoms’ which was commissioned for the new Midwifery Led Unit at St Michael’s, Bristol. These images use similar techniques to the planets series, combining images of water, time-lapse star photography and different combinations of the same six Chinese tea blossoms to reresent the multitude of possibilities presented by an unborn child.

I am currently formulating a brief for my next personal project and also collaborating with a small group of other artists to develop ‘Positive Image Art’, with a focus on using art to aid meaningful causes.

Sarah Jeffs - Tea Blossoms

Sarah Jeffs – Tea Blossoms

Did you always want to be a photographer?

No I didn’t! However last Spring I took some photography classes and they inspired me to start producing personal work again. I studied Fine Art – Painting and Printmaking in the 90’s, and after 16 years of working in graphic design along with photography I have developed the skills I now use in my current projects. I have returned to the thing that I love the most, and I am so happy that others are expressing and interest in what I am doing.

Some of your projects including ‘Crystalline Planet Series I-VII’ are created under controlled studio conditions. Could you tell us about that?

In my studio I create a black empty space, set up my camera and some primitive light sources. I then introduce the crystals and start to play. With this technique the initial image making process is so instant it becomes addictive, hours pass as accidents create processes and I discover how I can control the conditions and focus on the interactions that interest me most visually.

Post-production is a long process of unpicking and deciding what is successful, combining images and working with them to create a new dimension. It is very time consuming but I enjoy it just as much as the initial shoot. It is at this stage that the images morph from being the micro to describing the macro. Small becomes immense as layers of colour and form are built up, just as when I was as a painter and illustrator.

Sarah Jeffs

Some of your work makes use of long exposure photography. Why does this photographic technique appeal to you and what do you think it adds to your work?

It adds the dimension of time. In my latest projects each image is taken over a period generally between 10 and 30 seconds, the photograph contains a narrative of actions and reactions. The thing I love most about working with photography is that it’s like a magic trick of chance, light and objects.

Persephone- Sarah Jeffs - Fuji Flex Paper - 50 x 50xm - £280

Persephone- Sarah Jeffs – Fuji Flex Paper – 50 x 50xm – £280

Authors note: Persephone is featuring on The Fauns second album due to be released later this year

What inspires you and draws you to a particular subject? Do you have any personal connection to the subjects you explore in your current work?

I have always been struck by the night sky, I’m always the first to say “look at the moon” and to be distracted by the beauty of its expanse; I see it as the backdrop to our lives. From being a kid stargazing on camping trips to considering the incomprehensible nature of creation and the big bang, I have always been fascinated by the cosmos and in turn crystals as a beautiful product of the earth. So when ‘Crystalline Planets’ materialized as an idea I was so excited.

Creating work with photography gives me the opportunity to express what I think and work in a very instant way. Since I can remember I have always considered the visual aspect of my surroundings, rather than thinking in words. It’s hard to explain really, it’s like a meditation on how objects are arranged and lit in the world and taking time to just look at them.

Is there any particular feeling or sensation that you intend to evoke in your work?

The emotion I want to evoke in my work is one of questioning, wonder, of mystery, a secret, a puzzle. While one of my original projects ‘Backyard Svengali’ played with the idea of making a magic trick appear possible – mimicking the Victorian spiritualists – the ‘Crystalline Planets’ and ‘Tea Blossoms’ are my own little magic tricks.

Demeter - Sarah Jeffs - Fuji Flex Paper - 50 x 50cm - £280

Demeter – Sarah Jeffs – Fuji Flex Paper – 50 x 50cm – £280

To read more about Sarah and view available limited edition print, please see her page: