Sarah Townsend New York Experience to Brighton Horizons

(Ed. says – A somewhat tenuous link to Liverpool but an interesting interview. I love the idea of being able to go to an area of the city every Thursday knowing there will be openings to see.
And, as a fan of the Boredoms, I’d love to have seen that gig!)

Sarah Townsend New York Experience to Brighton Horizons.
Written by Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney.
Photography (c) of Artist
15 September 2007

(Above) From New York to Brighton by Sarah Townsend.

Sarah Townsend, an independent artist and member to Transvoyeur, has spent the past three months in New York (US) to research the arts, culture and scenes of the city. In her recent return she has settled for the time in Brighton to check out creative energies there. Although, one can never tell when she will be inspired and spread her wings again.

Townsend discusses more in experiences is New York and this new transition to Brighton back in the UK.

Sweeney: Why did you decide to go to New York? How long was your stay?

Townsend: I have always wanted to visit New York since a little girl, mainly for the big city buzz and for the visuals. It is a brilliant city and everyday can be totally different, 3 months is no way long enough once you have got the ball rolling but visas have their horrid rules and regulations. It’s kind of nice to leave wanting more though.

Sweeney: How was the art scene in New York?

Townsend: Every Thursday night from 6-9 Chelsea has openings between 10th and 11th, 22nd to 28th Street. It’s a great way to see what’s new and a start to meeting other artists and making connections, it also brings across a sense of community in the NY art scene to some degree. There’s also heaps of free booze for those who feel a bit shy about meeting new folk and talking about their own work. I liked the areas of DUMBO and Red Hook in Brooklyn for the mass of young and up and coming artists, they somehow come across a little bit more real than the la-di-da side of the city which can get a tad w@nky and stand offish at times. A lot of money circles the art world of NYC and a lot of shit can slip through the net and get far too caught up in the publicity or promotional sides of things which I encountered on a few occasions. In my experience I never saw anything that I was floored by in terms of in the galleries but the city is thriving with art and its an ace place to have hope and feel any is possible. There are also a lot of artist studios, workshops and groups to join which is always welcoming in such a diverse city.

Sweeney: What experiences do you take away with you as an artist since being in New York?

Townsend: One of my best NYC experience was the free one off ‘Boadrum’ performance by the Japanese avant-garde band The Boredoms under Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges at 7pm on the 7th day of the 7th month 2007; a mind blowing encounter with 77 New York drummers playing simultaneously for 77 minutes, with the Manhattan sunset skyline setting the scene behind, and thousands of people, who had queued for hours, crossed legged on the grass in the sunlight in between. I also enjoyed floating on my back during the opening of a large floating outdoor pool-barge whilst helicopters zipped over and American voices over the tannoy made me feel warm and more than welcome. I’ve fallen deeply in love with New York and will cherish all my experiences
there, both those which were daunting and those which were simple but precious. I cannot wait for my return!

Sweeney: What would you recommend about New York, both as an artist and visitor?

Townsend: and Great sites for ace free events, openings, festivals, all sorts of things all over the city night and day. Friday 4.00pm-8.00pm, when most of the galleries are free of charge (because you would be skint if you had to pay $20 each time which most of the museums charge!). Above all I’d definitely recommend not attempting to cram too many things in and just to let the city do it’s thing.

Sweeney: Did you develop any new work or research for new work from your experiences in New York?

Townsend: Not directly from my experiences no, maybe in time they will seep in somewhere along the line but I did do some drawing at my place in Greenpoint. I discovered the artist Henry Darger at the Folk Museum, who’s naive, delicately drawn and somewhat harrowing children have proved an inspiration to my series of ‘daddy’s taking me to the zoo tomorrow’ drawings. Regarding my experiences though, I have learnt that self promotion is of great importance to surviving as an artist. New Yorkers have a great air of confidence to them and I was often flabbergasted at how uninhibited they came across.

Sweeney: How come you returned to the UK and are now settling in Brighton?

Brighton: As mentioned before visas are only three months for tourists, it’s difficult to gain a working visa but easier if your minted which unfortunately I am not (yet)! I would love to have stayed longer but there is still the rest of America to explore when I return. I tried to live in London but at the moment I am allergic to it. When I can be distracted by school I may choose to live there. I feel better by the Brighton seaside, the city is small and it feels settling to find a nest and get my head down drawing here. I feel like its a resting and developing period for me now.

Sweeney: What do you hope to realise in Brighton?

Townsend: I hope to realise what more I want to learn.

Sweeney: What are your future professional objectives as an artists?

Townsend: I intend to sell some paintings to support myself before going back to school again.

Sweeney: How long do you anticipate staying in Brighton and your plans thereafter?

Townsend: My partner is starting a degree in wood, metal, ceramics and plastics here which will be thee years so we shall see. We will see how long it is before I start to itch … I want to visit Iceland next. I like to know that soon I will be visiting somewhere exciting and new.

For more information on the independent activities of Townsend go to:

Affiliated to Transvoyeur: