I doubt there are many people who would claim that artist Judy Sale has lived a mundane life. Since moving away from her birthplace, a small Indiana town located in the middle of the USA, Judy has lived in around eight different countries and spent time travelling around many, many more. In fact, due to what a distinct influence her surroundings have on her art and because of how often she has relocated, it has become easiest to categorise her works by where they were painted; and is why we see names of paintings come under titles like “Asia Series”, or “Cyprus Series”. The firsthand influence of these foreign cultures is clear to see in each of Judy’s pieces, whose mixed media collagist compositions regularly make use of personal photos and other found objects, boldly brought together under her vibrant, energetic, and abstractionist style. Closely tied to her travels and significant life events, Judy’s paintings can usually be viewed as somewhat biographical, telling and/or expressing the stories of important moments from her past (but more on this later).
“Thai Bedroom” is based on a memorable stay that Judy had in a fabulous island resort near the village of Ayuthaya, Thailand. Nestled amongst a landscape of beautiful rice paddies, the resort offered Judy a serene and culturally refreshing escape from the bustle of Western living. Many photos and pieces of memorabilia from this place are featured in the painting, presented alongside an invigorating composition of colours and textures. About this painting Judy says “I have tried to share the sacred atmosphere of the place as well as the simple beauty so carefully cultivated by my Asian hosts”.
When painted this particular piece commemorated Judy’s husband's retirement from the British Army, but now, sadly, acts as a recollection of what proved to be a very difficult divorce. It is now a reminder of how hard an institutionalised military life can be, a way of living where important decisions are ultimately made without your assent . The objects embedded in this piece: the encasing uniform, the cigarettes and beer, the ragged teeth of a steel blade, and the camouflage fabric - all speak of a world dominated and experienced mostly by men. For Judy, this painting “has become a personal memorial to my freedom as a single woman again.”
Having obtained dual American and British citizenship in 1993 Judy now lives in the small Yorkshire village of Haworth, where alongside her art practice she dedicates time to helping to restore ancient buildings. Her work is frequently featured in exhibitions all over the UK, and can also be found in many public and private collections around the globe. You can see more of Judy's work here.