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SABRINA OSBORNE, blending concerns of identity, belonging & loss

Words by Lula Criado


Gauge 1, surgical tool on self portrait (2007)


Gauge 2, science experiment glass laboratory equipment on self portrait (2007)


Gauge 3, science experiment glass laboratory equipment on self portrait (2007)

Beautiful, unsettling and disturbing are some of the words that come to my mind to describe the creative universe of Sabrina Osborne’s art. Indian-born but living and working between London and New Delhi, her work —linked to concerns of identity, memory, belonging and loss— is in between two cultures and two countries.

With a strong focus on the binomial known/unknown, one of the central axis of her universe and main source of inspiration is unconscious of the human mind connected to isolation, desolation and relocation issues. This is represented in her series In Search of the Known. But the series that most caught my attention was Gauge. In this series, she blends science and art by altering self-portraits with laboratory equipment like surgical tools or science experiment glasses and creates perturbing images.


From the series In Search of the Known


From the series In Search of the Known

What is more important: to take or not to take yourself too seriously in order to be creative?

I think a good balance is good. One should take one’s work seriously but the process can be playful, explorative and experimental. At one time earlier in my career, I had started to police my thought process so much that it was almost like infanticide.

It took me a while to get rid of that schooling and start believing that ”Doing is knowing”. I have learned that good & sincere intentions always fetch good results. A playful and free approach brings out the best in one’s creativity.

What’s your favourite time of the day?

Late mornings work best for me. My body feels rested and my mind is boggling with new thoughts and plans. I feel eager and enthusiastic. I am ready to explore what lies ahead.

Solitude or loneliness, how do you spend your time alone?

It is the three S for me- Solitude, silence and soliloquy. Solitude is crucial to me. It provides me with an opportunity to have an honest dialogue, fathom and process my deep thoughts and feelings. My time alone is spent thinking, observing and absorbing. My mind meditates untiringly gathering, processing, revisiting, reevaluating, and resolving the visual, aural and sensational world around and inside me.

Have you found beauty in unexpected places/situations?

I think that the best bit of being an artist is that one can rejoice in beauty everywhere. The phrase “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” couldn’t be more true. It is not what you see but how you see it that brings the beauty to it. It is all in the perception that one can free oneself from the preconceived notions of beauty.

My work process involves finding beauty in the ordinary and mundane.I do not go out looking for it but I find it in abundance everywhere. While roaming on the streets of a small town in India I encountered beauty in the cheeky smile of a beggar, who had no legs but a great sense of humour. He said to my English husband in English-,” Please help me. I have no legs. Lovely jubbly”, and he made us giggle.

What do you want to achieve before you die?

Contentment – when I will wish for no more and rise above the race of achievement and material success.

One for the road… What are you unafraid of?

We live in an age of anxiety and fear. I am afraid of being fearful. Recently I re-visited the image of a seated Buddha from Mathura School. His hand is raised in Abhaya Mudra symbolising – fearlessness. It is such a reassuring image. I have a coffee mug with the famous Churchill slogan, ’Keep calm and carry on, a good everyday reminder.

(All photos courtesy of the artist)
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