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Unnatural Natural History: Rose Sanderson

We talk to the Bristol-based artist about her work that’s on display at the Royal West of England Academy

Rose Sanderson’s work is amongst the diverse collection of art that’s currently being shown at the ‘Unnatural Natural History’ exhibition. The work at the Royal West of England Academy is all loosely connected to the theme of human interference with the environment, and curators Coates & Scarry would like us to question our definition of what is ‘natural’. At the forefront of Rose Sanderson’s pieces are images of birds, insects and parts of the anatomy which contrast with backgrounds that examine the textures of man-made materials.

All of nature inspires me in one way or another, but I guess there are particular aspects which fascinate me more often like insects, anatomy and decay

 Dazed Digital: When did you first begin working with Coates and Scarry?
Rose Sanderson: I met Coates a couple of years ago when he bought a small creature piece of mine for Scarry, they’re a loveable pair! I believe that they’ve been following me ever since. Within the last year that we’ve started working together, they’ve taken my work to AAF Melbourne and also exhibited it in the current ‘Unnatural Natural History’ show at the RWA.

DD: Which particular aspects of nature fascinate you?
Rose Sanderson: All of nature inspires me in one way or another, but I guess there are particular aspects which fascinate me more often like insects, anatomy and decay. The things which generally go unnoticed, that are appreciated when you look a bit closer.

DD: Do you think that some of the themes you explore might make people feel uneasy?
Rose Sanderson: Yes, sometimes. But I would rather people feel uneasy about my work than feel nothing at all. I think that it’s important for people to explore outside their comfort zones every now and again. My art isn’t aimed to cause disgust, but it is more about appreciation; seeing beauty in the seemingly ugly.

DD: What effect do you intend to create with the backgrounds in your work?
Rose Sanderson: My backgrounds represent life and decay - ‘layers of time’. I use old wallpapers, peeling and rubbing away paint and cracking surfaces. I aim to create interesting textures and colours which are inspired by urban landscapes and various interiors in which I have worked in the past.

DD: What tools and material etc are you using?
Rose Sanderson: I work mainly in acrylics as they are very versatile, along with other mediums to create different paint effects.  Tools include various brushes, palette knives, sponges, sandpaper etc.

DD: Do you intend to stay based in Bristol? What is it about this place that appeals to you?
Rose Sanderson: I’ve lived in Bristol for about 13 years now and it’s a great city to be in. It’s vibrant and busy but not so big that you feel isolated. I’ve met many wonderful people here and it’s not far from the great outdoors; hills, beaches, woodlands and countryside. I have future ambitions to explore the rest of the world, but I’d always keep Bristol as my base. I’m not ready to leave just yet!

Text by David Reed

Unnatural Natural History runs at the Royal West of England Academy until 23rd September 2012