School of Music and Fine Art

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Sarah Turner

Reader in Fine Art



Sarah Turner is an artist who writes and makes films. Her work spans single screen gallery pieces (rooted in the formal preoccupations of the avant-garde from which she emerged) to feature length projects that explore the interplay between abstraction and narration.

Her feature films Ecology (2007) and Perestroika (2009) are characterized by explorations of technologies, experimental approaches to writing and an engagement with experiences of narrative, immersion and embodiment within the long form film. Together with her new feature, Public House (2015), these three films form a trilogy of concerns that are broadly linked through ideas of ecologies: psychic, environmental and social.

All of her films have toured nationally and internationally and several have been broadcast through artists’ showcases on Channel 4. Sarah has had feature scripts commissioned by the British Film Institute, Film Four Lab and Zephyr Films. 

She was the writer in residence in the Dept of English and Related Literature at the University of York (2004). In the same year she received a Small Grant for the Creative and Performing Arts from the AHRC in order to investigate and produce an alternative to a script-based filmmaking practice through an innovative, location based process that exploits the responsive potential of digital video technologies. 

Prior to her appointment at Kent Sarah was prominently involved in public life as a curator: In 1997 she curated (with Jon Thompson) the launch season of the cinema at the LUX CENTRE; the most important centre for the production, distribution and exhibition of artist’s moving image work in Europe.  Prior to this she curated: Hygiene and Hysteria: The body desired and the body debased; touring programmes of Artists film and video for the Arts Council of England, as well as programmes for Tate Gallery and the National Film Theatre.


“As physically immersive as anything you’re likely to see at a 3D multiplex, Perestroika sets its coolly minimalist structure against a visceral emotional tone to produce a work unlike any other in current British cinema.’ Chris Darke, Sight and Sound: Film of the Month.

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Public House, 2015 (120 mins)
Perestroika: Reconstructed, 2013 (178 mins)
This is Not a Pier: For Poetry Beyond Text, 12 mins, (2011)
Perestroika, 118 mins, (2009)
Overheated Symphony: For Birds Eye View Film Festival; 10 mins, (2008)
Ecology, 97 mins, (2007)
London Birds Can't Fly, 11 mins,  (2003)
CUT, 17 mins,  (2001)
A Life in a Day with Helena Goldwater, 20 mins, (1996)
Sheller Shares her Secret, 8 mins, (1994)
A Tale Part Told, 4 mins, (1991)
One and the other time, 5 mins,  (1990)
She Wanted Green Lawns, 4 mins,  (1989)



'Shooting Gallery', Channel 4. Nov 2000 - Cut // Repeat Screening, C 4. Nov 2001 – Cut
'Midnight Underground', Channel 4 Sept 1996 - A Life in a Day with Helena Goldwater
'Midnight Underground' Channel 4 Sept 1996 - Sheller Shares her Secret
‘Midnight Underground' Channel 4 Oct 1997 - Repeat screening of A Life in a Day ...
Film Four - Sheller Shares her Secret and profile of filmmaker, 1998
Tours include 
Flesh Histories - Curated by Tom Kalin – 1992
'Sight & Sound/BFI Women Making Movies Tour' UK – 1995
Beacons of Style: A history of Experimental Cinema - Curated by Cinenova UK – 1998
The Raw and The Cooked. Fourth ICA Biennial curated by B. Ruby Rich - ongoing.

Tours include 
Flesh Histories - Curated by Tom Kalin – 1992
'Sight & Sound/BFI Women Making Movies Tour' UK – 1995
Beacons of Style: A history of Experimental Cinema - Curated by Cinenova UK – 1998
The Raw and The Cooked. Fourth ICA Biennial curated by B. Ruby Rich - ongoing.

Publications and Selected Bibliography 
CUT. COIL magazine – 1999
The Raw and the Cooked - The fourth ICA Biennial. B. Ruby Rich, Chris Darke 1997 A Directory of British Film and Video Artists - Arts Council Of England/University of Luton Press 1996 
Beacons of Style - Cinenova/The Arts Council Of England 1998
BFI | Sight & Sound | The tracks of time: Sarah Turner's 'Perestroika
BFI | Sight & Sound | Film of the month: Perestroika (2009)
Sarah Turner / Rosalind Nashashibi | Reviews | Interface | a-n

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Sarah teaches across all aspects of the Fine Art Programme.

She is interested in writing as art practice; experimental and hybrid writing forms that engage with fictional and poetic developments particularly for the screen.

Sarah leads the workshops across time/ lens based practices.

She teaches and convenes Found Image, Found Sound:

The module gives students the opportunity to collaboratively produce an audio visual work This module is completely interdisciplinary; taught by both a film artist and a sound composer, Fine Art and Music students work together to create a video/audio composition. The module explores the frameworks, key themes, processes and ideas of ‘the found’: sound concrète, found footage and found environments.
Students have studio time, lectures, tutorials and a number of technical workshops designed to give a level of craft competency in video camera and editing, as well as sound recording, mixing and editing. A programme of screenings and listening sessions contextualises and compliments the study of thematic frameworks.

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Sarah welcomes Practice as Research proposals which explore inter-relationships between fact and fiction; work that explores experimental approaches to writing; particularly work that experiments with narrative, narration, or challenges narrative causality. Also work that engages with digital video technologies; contingency or improvisation within filmmaking practice; and more generally, proposals which engage with artists film: single screen, installation and sound.

Sarah is also working with an independent research group formed of scholars (Kent/Goldsmiths), curators (NoWhere/ Tate Modern) and (film) artists to bring together a programme of work, and, an edited collection (Ed: Lucy Reynolds) of writings on the under explored impact, legacy and visibility of, the British Women’s Avant Garde.

Any proposals that engage with the British avant garde and curatorial pratice are also welcomed.

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Last Updated: 06/10/2016