Meet The Artist: Sarsby Martin

Meet The Artist: Sarsby Martin

As featured in the August edition.

Author: Esperance Tide
Published: August 04, 2021

Sarsby Martin

Sarsby Martin is a multidisciplinary muralist, photographer and writer who landed in Esperance from the Perth Hills as a teen. She describes her work as dark, playful and pink, as evident in her mural on The Book Box, which Sarsby completed in July. When Sarsby’s not pursuing her creative endeavours, you’ll find her at either Cloud Eleven Coffee + Tea or Lucky Bay Brewing, depending on the time of day. 

Firstly, how do you describe your work? 

To be completely honest, I approached this question with a deft expression on my face. So, I asked my mate Kelsey who provided, “Dark… playful… and pink!” I couldn’t have put it better myself. I am a multidisciplinary muralist, photographer and writer. What is funny is that I had a hard time working out my business category/description on Instagram, so this just shows you I am a true artist who cannot be restrained by the walls of social media. 

Sarsby Martin

Let’s talk about your photography. 

A lot of it is self-taught. You have to have a third eye for photography. I think it’s called your mind’s eye, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got one of those. You can’t poke it with a sharp stick or step away from it either. I’ve learnt from the experiences raised as a photographer, you’ll continue to take photos whether you’re holding a camera or not. I was reminded recently that the best body of work is the ones that never fulfil your desired brief and leave just enough room for improvement to keep an audience engaged with your creative intuition and future processes. In other words, it’s a fifth limb I’ve accepted. Saying that, I have spent a lot of time looking at things around me with my cyclops eye and not doing anything with it. You have to have that faith. It takes a gut intuition (I think I mustered only a few years ago) to be like, “Hey yeah, that chair looks great against that dog in the background, and the flying pig in the sky creates just enough interest for people to second-guess their existence.” Your mind’s eye would’ve told you this, and you’ve just got to be its cheerleader with pom-poms and all. This is authenticity. It hasn’t got a price tag.

In high school and the insignificant years directly after, I second-guessed all of my interests. You’re going to waste a lot of time, but I know now I’m on that path of making up for it. More recently, I’ve spent a lot of time setting up photoshoots, set design and equipment, and after everything, I walked away and found the process to be far too predictable. No matter how much you experiment with the content of your photos, it’s nice to see something, and within an instant, you can capture the truly creative nature of your surroundings. I always surprise myself once I sit down with the content on my phone or camera to work with the morning after an event. 

What subjects do you enjoy photographing?

I first dappled with photography in high school and developed an interest in portraiture from there. I enjoy commandeering a lot of candid photos of people. The more realistic the photograph, the better. People already spend enough time re-inventing themselves; it’s nice to grab a slice of that process without too much manipulation to their honest selves.

And now to your art. How do you describe it? 

It’s not always fish. I’m discovering this more and more, aided by the practical use of aerosol paint, free-drawing, stencilling and paint markers. It’s hard to put a spin on my work because it’s still in the early stages. As more opportunities arise, the more ill estrange and familiarise my techniques. One after the other.

As an artist, I realise as I’m wording my answer to this question: I may as well give up now on how best to describe my work because I’ll never quite work that out. Getting really wise with the world… the ideas that stem from my imagination are ingrained in what is happening around me at the time. You can’t put a box around time. This itself is a practising technique. The more experiences I throw myself into, the more ideas I have to throw at a wall.

Where does your inspiration come from? 

My inspiration stems from many hands-on experiences I’ve had with the people surrounding me and the trails of thought that cross my mind at night. Inspiration is a force that cannot be reckoned with when I am handed opportunities to collaborate with people from any background, use complementary media forms to express themselves. 

Sarsby Martin Art

There seems to be a recurring theme of fish… 

That’s funny you’ve picked up on that. Anything ‘marine’ and ‘ocean’ related is exhausted down here in Esperance. I don’t blame people. It is right on our doorstep, but I have always had a childish ambition to venture down to the furthest depths of the ocean to witness species of ocean life that are commonly overlooked. This has bled into my work on some occasions. We get caught up with publicised species like whale sharks, dolphins and turtles; it’s nice to look at your lonely pufferfish and give it all the credit it deserves. A fish’s anatomy is incredible to play around with too, they’re great things to re-invent by changing the shape of the anal fin or adding an extra eyeball. It’s a friendly reminder to dive deeper into the unknown, and I think the audience down here thrive off that idea.

The Book Box mural looks great! What was your brief for this project? 

No books. Well, I told myself that, and [Book Box owner] Tammy went along with it, which was great. You want to be able to compliment a store, and Tammy’s unique little abode has got so much to look at within it; it’s nice to break up space with my wiggly pink leaves and aerosol textures.

Any other recent commissions?

Not too long ago, I was presented with the opportunity to give a lending hand to public artist George Domahidy. He totally mastered the mural that stretches the entirety of the new sports stadium. This was a fun little experience and broke the ice. Bigger is better. Murals are for me.

I have a great deal of respect for Dan Paris out at Mystwood Harvest. The work I did for him around his entire home was enough to pull my headspace out of the creative bog it was immersed in and give personal credit to my ability to freestyle a piece of art on such a large scale. A lot of inventing took place, and I finally took a grip on the full colossal power of an aerosol can. All of this plus the pleasure to incorporate someone’s personal objects and every day into my work.

Have you ever held an exhibition? 

A great deal of planning went into one at the beginning of last year that didn’t follow through with financing. Shit does stink, and that’s just life sometimes. From this and the experience I’ve gained recently, I have a fair idea of what I’d like to do for my local community. Whether this gets initiated through an exhibition, I’m yet to decide. I need to pull my finger out. It’s an excellent idea that needs to get thrown back into the pipeline.

What do you write? 

Guided gibberish people can relate to their tangled lives and grow a better idea of themselves from my tangible use of Grammarly. Hypothetically speaking, I love the idea of spitting sentences at people. A good slap across the face with words to shake someone out of relatively flaccid everyday life. Whether someone is possibly offended is not my problem because I wasn’t the one who read it. Touché.

Sarsby Martin Art

What is it about writing that you enjoy? 

Good writing that’s not monotonous can pull at your heartstrings and allows your mind to breathe into different perspectives to your structured everyday morals and values. 

Have you always lived in Esperance? 

I was born and raised in Boya, a small pocket of the Perth hills, then moved here with my family to start fresh, jump on a business endeavour and begin high school years ago. I have moved back and forth from the big smoke multiple times. I shuffled back here again in August last year, and this time around, I’ve stuck to my guns. I have a super supportive, loving, creative group of close friends down here; it’d be hard to step away from that during these trickier times. For sole traders, freelancers and small businesses like myself, thank god for social media and conversations on the street. I am grateful for the exposure that’s being received in a small country town. What a force!

When you’re not taking photos, painting, or writing, what can we find you doing? 

To be completely honest, painting, photography, written work and all the admin work that goes into supporting these three endeavours have filled my days and most evenings quite comfortably. You’ll find me at the odd Cannery event or exhibition, or consuming a desired poison of choice, depending on the time of day, between Cloud 11 and on the weekend at the brewery. It’s a perfect schedule as is; I don’t think I need any hobbies in-between as I’m doing them as fundamental parts of my days already. Saying that, I’m always chasing blank walls… Have you got one?

Lastly, tell us where we can find your work! 

At this stage, you can find my murals on The Book Box in the Museum Village and within the private dwellings of a good friend and horticulture expert Dan Paris out at Mystwood Harvest. If you find yourself waltzing the streets of the Perth CBD, breeze past August Eyewear. I let a creative bomb off in their front foyer. I look forward to painting more private commissions and have two exciting jobs lined up in the next few weeks. I still need to get my head around grant applications to open up more public art opportunities. To keep up with everything, you can follow my progress via Instagram (@bysarsby) and my website www.sarsbymartin.com. I’d like to personally thank the Esperance Community for your support. Much love from that common pink haired hooligan you may have seen scooting on her bike around town.