With a background as a fashion product designer for the likes of Disney, Warner Brothers, and too many other children’s entertainment companies to mention, Sarah Gillings AKA S.o.S has brought her knowledge of “Consumer Products” into her more recent art in order to make powerful statements about issues close to her heart such as Women’s & Girls rights.
After nearly 2 decades of product and retail environment designing, marketing and advertising culminating in being a Senior Account Director in Dubai, S.o.S decided that change needs to start at “home.” Disillusioned with the idea of globalisation, she felt that going back to “community” was the way that positive social change could begin in her practice.
S.o.S sees herself as a performer of feminism who uses the street setting as her gallery. She still believes that in order for women to “mark-make” where the majority of artworks are by men is still quite a radical act, and the more mature woman has a definite role to play in reclaiming what our world can look like. The marks and representations we mainly see in the street setting include territorial tagging/writing, advertising media and so many visual representations we aren’t even aware of, are mainly all designed and conceived by men. By joining in and pronouncing, “Look at me, I am here! ” She feels this is a subversive act of rebellion in itself simply because she is a woman. Whether other female street artists are aware of this or not S.o.S feels that we are all part of a wave of women who are smashing gender stereotypes by performing street art and giving themselves permission to “take up space” in the public eye and setting.
A multi-award-winning street-artist, S.o.S likes the irony of a Government endorsement for her approach using a medium which can be percieved as “anti-social”. Number 10 Downing St recognised her with a Points of Light award in Sept 2018 for making a difference and being an inspiration through the medium of Spray-paint with her UK Charity, U CAN Spray CIO.
S.o.S’s artwork since 2014 is all based or linked some way to the street, and in this public space, she weaves ideas of branding, marketing, icons, and advertisements into her artworks. S.o.S’s artwork from The Banksy Tunnel, London called Alice Against FGM has been re-painted on numerous occasions in the UK & Vienna, where she was invited by the Austrian Parliament to present to the press about her powerful work subverting Alice in Wonderland for raising awareness to 65,000 girls at risk in the UK per year & 8,000 in Austria respectively. An accomplished aerosol painter, S.o.S is actually a multimedia artist, using wheatpaste, spray-paint, traditional oils, cellophane, ceramics, a potato-peeler, and more recently; screen-printing and digital art as her tools of choice
S.o.S Graduated from the Masters Program at The University of Brighton, UK, in Inclusive Arts Practice in 2015 where she was awarded first class Honours with Distinction
S.o.S’s research project was based around gender issues and the chosen medium is street art intervention.
AWARDS & ACCREDITATIONS
2015 Public Art Design Competition for The Brighthelm Centre.
2015 University of Brighton Student’s Union 1st Prize Winner of the BrightSpark Award for innovation and original ideas for her inclusive spraypaint workshops.
My first intervention in Leake Street as part of Femme Fierce
I am interested in using my conceptual skills and my ability to tune into changes in social trends in order to help change perceptions and create positive social change. I would like to make art accessible to as many people as possible, including more hard to reach or vulnerable individuals. Through my Master of Arts in Inclusive Arts Practice at the University of Brighton I specialised in creating art interventions in the street for my final arts research project. After investing hundreds of hours into this genre, I am beginning to understand how the almost simple act of creating a mural, or using spray paint to engage with people who find it difficult to “join in”, is a powerful communication tool. I have been practising inclusive arts ever since.
How can street art create social change?
1 By continuing it’s message (even after it has been painted over) via social media and on-line sharing & blogs.
2 By reaching individuals who may not have otherwise engaged with the message.
3 By transforming spaces into the type of space that more people would like to see.
4 By engaging “out of the system” individuals into art-making via workshops which impart a sense of confidence, team work and enabling skill sharing.
5 By enabling women and girls to make their mark, be heard, and in-turn transform our environment and our perceptions (alongside male mark makers in the street.)