MUNTHE ART MONDAY: SAFIRA TAYLOR
Please introduce yourself and tell us about what you do.
My name is Safira Taylor and I am a British/Omani artist who is currently based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I studied Fine Art at Academie Minerva Groningen, NL, and Painting at the Royal College of Art in London, UK.
I am currently working on a long-term series titled ‘Mother Stands for Comfort’. In this series, I have been looking into reproductive processes in plants and animals, including humans. Each work in this series is painted on vintage linen, which I source at markets. This linen is thick and textured with a life of use and repair, adding another dimension to the idea of process explored in the paintings. This series is the first time I have been consecutively producing two-dimensional works. Prior to this, I made mostly three-dimensional works. You can see in my current paintings how my sculptural works have informed their style through the layering of fabric and paint. I have also been considering the language of painting: the comfortable language of aesthetic beauty and contrasting languages, such as those of tactility and vulnerability. I explore how these languages can exist in opposition but also how they can reconcile each other.
Safira is wearing LIPA jacket
Could you explain more about how being a woman has affected your career?
It is a very significant time to be a female artist. The whole art history canon has expanded greatly with the recognition and visibility of female artists who have previously been overlooked. Many female artists from history had to fight to pursue their art, and now their stories are being shared in accessible ways, offering inspiration to artists working today. It is really exciting!
Can you name some other female (artist) that inspires you and explain why they do so?
I always remember when I was first introduced to the work of the sculptor Phyllida Barlow. I visited her exhibition ‘Cul-de-Sac’ at the Royal Academy in London. There was a short process video at the entrance where she was filmed dropping part of her sculpture on the floor – on purpose! I was really inspired by this ruthless way of working. I think of this example a lot when I’m painting and want to free myself from the work. Other female sculptors whose work I often look to are Daiga Grantina, Eva Hesse and Ruth Asawa. Amongst other things, their use of materials inspires me. Regarding painters, Gillian Ayres, Amy Sillman (also a great writer), Pam Evelyn, Chioma Ebinama, Miriam Cahn and Rosalind Nashashibi inspire me too.
Safira is wearing DRUZ knit.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a woman in the arts?
Engaging in ongoing conversations about feminism and intersectionality has heightened my critical awareness, which, although challenging at times, I greatly appreciate. For example, when I observe galleries or institutions with limited diversity in their representation, it's deeply disheartening, prompting me to disengage and instead give my support where inclusivity and representation are priortised. Not just as a female artist, but as an individual interacting with wider communities, it is important to put these conversations into action.
What would you like people to notice in your artwork?
I have been painting on vintage linen sheets. For generations, these sheets have been passed down within families, predominantly by women. Some of them are very worn, and you can see areas where holes and tears have been mended. I enjoy noticing these moments of care that have gone into ensuring cross-generational sustainability for something as simple, but with as much everyday importance, as sheets. When painting, I always take my time. Each painting is made up of so many layers that I struggle to acknowledge to myself that a painting is finished. That I have given each painting so much time and care, which originates from the linens themselves, is something I hope people notice and appreciate when they look at my work.
Safira is wearing DRUZ knit.