Dubbed the next Tracey Emin, Suffolk artist SOPHIE will be performing SELFISH marriages when she returns to Aldeburgh next week, with her ground-breaking solo show. Here she explains how she’s happily married to the idea of self-directed art therapy
Marriage ceremonies as we know them are between two people, the bride and groom, the bride and bride, the groom and groom. What if, before you commit to another, you marry yourself first? Artist SOPHIE has done exactly that, and said it is the most self-indulgent commitment she has ever made. SOPHIE is determined to change the way we see marriage at her ground-breaking exhibition, ‘My SELF(ish) Portrait Gallery’, at Aldeburgh’s Ballroom Arts, Courtyard Gallery from July 18 to 24.
The show, which happens to be in the same month as International Self-Care Day (July 24), is a culmination of a 17-year long journey which began with a conceptual self-portrait at age 23.
SOPHIE says: ‘I simply asked, and answered my own question; ‘Who am I? I don’t know!’. For as long as I can remember I have been on a journey of inner inquiry. At 35 I began to delve deeper, in my own unconventional way of self-directed art therapy. During this time, I was inspired to marry myself. I asked myself; ‘How can I commit to my husband, family and friends, if I haven’t committed to myself first?’,’ explains SOPHIE.
That question inspired SOPHIE to prepare for her own marriage, to herself. The event took place on the Solstice of 2020. Witnessed by friends, SOPHIE took her vows and promised to commit to herself first. Having graduated with a First-Class Hons in Fine Art at UEA in 2005, SOPHIE discovered the power of performance art and lives out every day as an ever- unfolding self-portrait.
‘I am the artist, canvas and muse. My self-portraits always begin with a question, ‘who am I today?’. In the beginning my portraits were abstract, I would draw out scribbles of unreadable words. After a number of years, the self-portraits became conceptual, inspired by my domestic environment. I saw myself as kitchen utensils and accessories, from the humble spatula to the dutiful tea-towel.
‘I find myself fascinating to observe as a muse. Observing myself is a paradox, the less I know of myself, the more I understand myself. For this show, it will be just me, myself and I, in the gallery space, I am the art. I will be a living breathing self-portrait in the gallery. On July 21, 2022, I will be celebrating individuals in their own SELF marriage, inviting people to turn the mirror inwards, asking, ‘who are you without all the labels, grades and social expectations?’.’
SOPHIE has written specific SELFISH vows, which she herself has lived by, ever integral to her art. Those who wish to be married by SOPHIE, to themselves, will be invited to announce these SELFISH celebratory promises with witnesses in the gallery.
Dubbed the next Tracey Emin, SOPHIE is a fearless artist, and her art shatters taboos. She first opened her pop-up show, ‘My SELF(ish) Portrait Gallery’ in March 2022, with a tension-inducing, live therapeutic counselling session. In front of an audience of 50 people SOPHIE sat in session with a therapeutic counsellor (whom she had only met once) opening up about her first period, declaring she is GOD and sharing her journey and revelations with being a voice hearer.
‘This isn’t the same show I opened with, I am not who I was then, this show is ever changing with where I find myself in life.’ Organic, spontaneous, witty, primal and brutally honest, this progressive exhibition is an invite to explore and celebrate who you are.
As SOPHIE concludes: ‘For me, it’s about the faith in myself that everyday I will be the art and I trust the path, wherever it takes me.’
‘My SELF(ish) Portrait Gallery’, by SOPHIE, takes place at Ballroom Arts, Courtyard Gallery, 152A High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP15 5AQ, from July 18 to 24, and is open from 10am to 7pm. The SELFISH Marriages take place on July 21. The Artist will SEE you now – LIVE one-to-one art therapy – takes place on July 22. Booking essential. For more information, visit www.iamselfish.co.uk.