Sarah Baker's work spans performance, photography and film, among other realms at the truly commercial end of "luxury goods" market that many artists purport to interrogate in their work, but seldom have gained her level of "insider" access.
Born in San Francisco, Sarah spent her childhood in Buffalo, NY before studying at San Francisco Art Institute, followed by postgraduate studies at Goldsmiths College in London, the city in which she settled and has made her home.
Sarah Baker's quixotic practice jumps deftly from works that involved her re-enacting the persona of the Laura Palmer character from the cult TV series directed by David Lynch, 'Twin Peaks' (1990), to interviewing popular fiction writer Jackie Collins whom she openly acknowledged "stalking"; from exploring the world of synchronised swimming to making film works in an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright house. Mercurial and medium-agnostic, Sarah Baker seldom conforms to expectations.
Baker's practice exists in a borderline territory where her obvious attraction to notions of glamour and popular media iterations of luxury do not prevent her from simultaneously questioning and playing with these notions, whether as works of art or simply in her psychological positioning of how she broaches the worlds of luxury, glamour and fashion.
This, however, has not proven a barrier—for example, in 2019, she was the artist Donatella Versace invited to create the international brand's seasonal campaign—and, of course, she has set about creating a luxury fragrance house. An art project that turned into a de facto niche perfume brand in its own right; Sarah has focussed heavily on the olfactory...
Some seven years on, Sarah Baker Perfumes is a highly respected niche fragrance house, producing fragrances of the highest quality and working with some of today's most innovative perfumers.
But, the work shown in True North, a collaboration with fellow artist (and her husband) Andy Hsu, rather takes her back to her artist's POV in her tentative steps into the heady world of perfume.
One of her first creations as a tentative and emerging perfumer, 'McEvoy' was a fragrance she created as a gift for her father whose name it bears. Not particularly a fragrance enthusiast, she created a fragrance for a man who didn't think of fragrance much. Rather she looked to her olfactory sense of her father; the unique scents of the San Francisco waterfront where they would visit hole-in-the-wall jazz bars together or the aromas of the Northern California coast around Big Sur, a locale strongly associated with her parents' "beat generation" circle that included the likes of poet, playwright and activist Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
While it might have been one of her earliest forays into the world of fragrance, it nonetheless today has fans among discerning fragrance aficionados.
But, Sarah Baker is an artist before she is a perfumer. So, her unique gift for her dad, completed in collaboration with her husband Andy Hsu, not only involved the fragrance, but the sculptural musical presentation box in which it was placed, quite literally a wooden boat.
Sarah has spoken of how her father broke the bottle while she was staying with him in California and how the fragrance took up a nearly permanent residence in his home as a result of this.
In True North, Sarah and Andy re-visit this earlier project with a re-consideration of one of the first fragrances she ever created as a trained perfumer, a fragrance that has since evolved from its earliest composition and is now presented within her commercial stable as G Clef, stocked in high-end perfumeries internationally.
In a more low-key take on the "spritzer performances" that were part of her initial perfume-based art project, Sarah will be available to guide people through sampling this sophisticated, classical fragrance with a decidedly sartorial flair at the exhibition opening.