Sarah Baird's political art explores the visual and verbal messages which demonstrate our society's attitudes, especially about women.
On finishing her Bachelor of Visual Arts (Honours), Sarah Baird felt she'd only just worked out what she wanted to say and how she wanted to do it, so she came back to the Dunedin School of Art to do a Master of Fine Arts majoring in sculpture. Michele Beevors was Sarah's studio supervisor and Jane Venis her writing supervisor.
Sarah wanted her work to comment on how women are portrayed in the media, including how they are expected to look and behave, and also the way women judge their own bodies. Her work has evolved to include the judgemental messages that society sends to others too, on grounds of sexuality or race.
Sarah took one of the mannequins she'd made for her Honours project, called Bertha, whose body parts were modelled on eight different women. Using a computer and a drawing machine she made herself, Sarah created and enlarged two dimensional outlines of slices of Bertha. The slices were hand cut from MDF board, then screwed together to create a three metre tall Bertha. She also made a host of miniature Berthas, slipcasting them in moulds. The drawing machine was also used to print posters with text. The texts were comments actually made to Sarah and others and other related comments published in the media. Together the posters and sculptures aggregated and challenged the messages of our society that denigrate others.
A friend's 15-year-old daughter recognised many of the texts as things people had said to her. My grandmother told me these things were being said when she was my age. People think this stuff doesn't happen any more but it does. I wanted to draw attention to that.