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now you see us

now you see us opens 6th May 6-9pm, the exhibition continues 9th-11th May 2016 at Centrala Art Loft, Minerva Works, Birmingham, B5 5RS


A performative exhibition examining female form, idealised beauty and queering

the golden ratio by Sarah Fortes Mayer and Gay Place. Sculpture and performance

by Sarah Fortes Mayer, Sculpture and photography by Gay Place accompanied by harpist by Michelle Dalton.


The Golden Ratio/phi is a proportion in which the ratio of the whole to the larger part is the same as the ratio of the larger part to the smaller when a line is divided into two segments.
The ratio is approximately 1.618.
Proportions based on the golden section are believed to be eye-pleasing [1]


now you see us is a unique opportunity to experience the work of two mid-career artists who examine their lived experience of being female through sculpture and performance. Taking the golden ratio as the curatorial conceptual cue, a queer version is embedded within the exhibition space. Referring simultaneously to art historical cannons and classical masculine display, this is an attempt to circumnavigate notions of idealised female beauty and concept of bodily perfection.


What we see in this exhibition are works that are honest, that celebrate and make visible the lived experience of being female through opposing methods, the visceral and the abstract. Both artists use repetition of form in their practice, these methods are reflective not only of the formal qualities of casting and making but can be considered performative in itself


… as the reiterative enactment across time of meaning (including that of the ‘self’ or subject) through embodied gestures, language, and/or other modes of signification, opens the supposedly static work of art, constructed by art history to the temporal, and to the vicissitudes of invested and embodied engagement by visitors, to, participants

in, or viewers of the work.[2]


Sarah Fortes-Mayer is a multi-disciplinary artist, performer and sculptor, her body is central to her practice. She is concerned with what she considers a disappearing, ageing body of becoming invisible in contemporary society. now you see us demonstrates her ambition to make this concern visible.

Her highly skilled sculptures are uncanny, both beautiful and disturbing through hyper-sensitive exactness of casting.

She makes no attempt to disguise or enhance the source of the casting, the viewer is confronted and made to look again and again repeatedly, to notice without prejudice the fleshiness of her body, the delicate lace of the skin, the voluptuous figure. These bold works draw you in through repetition of form, one cast repeated and in each performative sculptural instance of repetition we see “a skin which unravels


Seductively similar, they suck us in, seduce us in to a sense of understanding but with a wry smile another facet appears to make us look closer, to see more clearly, to accept the same body as different, through elements of repetition of form, of making or of presentation. (Gilles Deleuze) [3]





























Gay Place is a PHD candidate at Birmingham City University, working with a queer theoretical approach to art making. Her work is primarily highly personal sculpture, not only in relation to her name (her given name, and her name change “I used to be gay”) but in the exactness of her body measurements within the pieces, notably the plinth and paper works.


Each of her pieces presents and represents her body, her name, her identity, in a quiet dispassionate way. In contrast to Fortes Mayer, her works are abstracted ideas of the body, the body as a plinth, something that is conventionally utilised to support art in an exhibition, an object we are meant to overlook, ignore and consider invisible.


She describes the pieces in impassive mathematical terms, "h: 75 cm (length of my leg from the floor to my bottom), w: 60 cm, d: 90 cm"


Her works continually oscillate between a logical mathematical abstraction and the emotionally charged.

Queering the status quo, ideas of homogenous beauty, her works interrogate social consensus and collective representation. She queers the golden ratio adapting the ratio to her body


“…whilst taking into account the golden ratio the measurements are slightly adjusted.

Golden ratio: A+B =157 cm/A: B = 97:60 (A+B when halved gives height)”



























           Gay Place: Paper Puff (2015)                                                                           Gay Place:  Gay Tattoo Design (2014)

             Dimensions: h: 152 cm, dia: 26cm.

             Materials: round wooden box, roll of Fabriano paper, woman’s belt



With thanks to all at Centrala, Digbeth, Birmingham




[2] The Now and The Has Been : Paradoxes of Live Art in History, p139 from Perform Repeat, Record Live Art in History, (ed) Amelia

Jones and Adrian Heathfield 2012

[3] Difference and Reptition, Gilles Deleuze, p194, 1998

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