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Interview with Artist Sarah Tann

So Sarah, Where do your creative inspirations come from?

My current practice centers around what my life is like as an artist with endometriosis and what the day to day looks like. I've always had an issue with verbally explaining how I feel when I'm asked. Since the end of 2022 when I received my diagnosis, I've been using my art practice to illustrate the things that I struggle to put into words. I find that much of my inspiration stems from wanting to bring further awareness about the condition and to educate myself and others.  

What lies at the core of my work is evaluating my identity as someone with a chronic illness and uncovering how I've changed over time. I use art to visually unpack what it means to navigate the world while living with Endometriosis. Through expressing my own experience, I aim to promote knowledge of living with a chronic condition. My art encourages tactile understanding for viewers and invites them to have broader conversations about these issues.

What would your dream exhibition be?

I would love to have my work shown in a way that enables viewers to have a level

of interaction with the art. For most of my art, I try to include certain materials and elements that can be touched. I've been to a few exhibitions that had signs indicating that the works could be touched, and I think that's such a cool idea to have. Personally, while my work is about myself, there have been times where certain themes have a level of universal understanding and I believe that having an exhibition that is interactive creates a much deeper conversation and relationship between me as the artist and the audience. 

I would also really love to try to fill as much of my work as possible into an entire exhibition space that the area is almost overwhelming and hard to navigate. I always like to attempt to recreate feelings associated with how Endo feels and what's better than that sense of unease?   

How has your creative practice evolved?

My practice initially began when I started at North Metropolitan TAFE. Before then, I had dabbled with drawing and did a lot of digital art and other related things when I was previously studying game design overseas. I hadn't really considered being an artist until I moved back to Australia a few years ago and began studying visual arts. When I started my practice, it was a lot of learning my footing and it wasn't until I was finishing up my diploma that I was feeling more confident in my art. I quite dramatically shifted my art direction when I was formally diagnosed with Endometriosis. That's when I really began using my work as a means to cope and better understand the news of having a chronic condition. Now, my creative practice explores the notion of life with a long-term chronic illness and how I'm currently navigating my new reality. 

What's next for you?

My aim now is to keep fueling my art practice and to continue making work. I'm still very interested in using my work to document my experience with having a persistent chronic condition and using that as a basis to understand my mind and body better. I feel that I have a level of responsibility as someone with endo to learn everything I can and to create dialogues around the “taboo-ness” of living with chronic pain/illness. I’m still learning a lot every day from various communities around the world, and I want to continue to research everything that I possibly can to help myself and hopefully others with our journeys.  

I'm still very much a “baby artist” as a previous lecturer used to say and I'm only just getting started with my career so I'm looking forward to evolving and growing into the future. As of now, I would love to work in any way I can with research and education around Endometriosis and to keep using my art practice to show who I am and what happens next.

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