Sarah Maple A Bold, Brave But Controversial Visual Artist

Oct 22, 2018 by Phoebe Cook

Sarah Maple is a 33 year old visual artist known for her witty, playful and controversial pieces of art. She deals with taboo subjects such as religion, a topic which particularly resonates with her identity crisis and struggle to find her place in society growing up. It is through her images that she learnt to embrace her cultural background; her father is white and British and her mother is an Iranian Muslim. Maple has created her own platform to speak up for inequalities in society. She doesn’t put up answers, but poses questions for society to dwell on.

sarah maple smoking woman

Image Credit: Saatchi Art

In 2015, she released a book entitled You Could Have Done This and she has spoken at a Tedx talk (The Freedom To Be Challenged), both pieces centred around her work which has allowed her to voice inequalities and disparities in society. Images are powerful, and these ones are controversial. Maple's work has also been the subject of documentaries including ARTE and VPRO. After winning the Sky Academy Arts scholarship, another documentary was made about her work and her life.

Not 30%

Maple exhibited last weekend (5th - 6th October) at The Other Art Fair exhibition ‘Not 30%’. This is an all-woman artist exhibition looking to improve the gender disparity by increasing the percentage of women represented in the arts world. 60% of arts students are women, but currently only 30% are exhibited in London galleries, so where are they? Well, here’s Sarah Maple and some of her images from the  ‘Not 30%’ exhibition:

All-women art not 30% Sarah Maple

Image Credit: Sarah Maple

read my lips Sarah Maple

Image Credit: Saatchi Art


Sarah Maple woman burka smoking

Image Credit: Sarah Maple

Maple is almost always the central figure in her images. In an interview, she said she has always been interested in depicting herself. “So when people say ‘you put yourself in your work, that’s quite vain’, I was like, it’s me but it isn’t me at the same time” - I am Sarah Maple - Interview by Tyler Gurd Film.

Harper’s Bazaar

Sarah has designed a limited edition cover for an edition of the Harper’s Bazaar annual art issue, celebrating women in art. The November issue of the magazine is available now.

Harper's bazaar Sarah Maple cover

Image Credit: Sarah Maple


‘Disney Princess Series’

In 2011 Maple created her ‘Disney Princess Series’. She collected “eBay’s finest” princess dress-up costumes to create powerful images portraying the six most famous Disney Princesses in high-powered, traditionally male, jobs. Sleeping Beauty performs open-heart surgery, the Little Mermaid dominates the boardroom, Belle screams from the sidelines as a fairytale football manager, Cinderella graduates and there’s Judge Jasmine and Snow White the Scientist too!

Sleeping Beauty Sarah Maple

Little Mermaid Sarah Maple

Disney Princess Belle Sarah Maple

Cinderella Sarah Maple

Princess Jasmine Sarah Maple

Snow White Sarah Maple

Image Credits: Sarah Maple


‘Not My Cup of Tea’

Sarah Maple brexit

Image Credit: Sarah Maple

At the end of 2017, Maple created a series of images in response to Brexit, entitled ‘Not My Cup of Tea’. It explores questions more important now than ever before, about integration and immigration, ‘British Values’ and the current worldview of Islam. Since the dramatic increase in Islamophobia and xenophobia across the world after 2016, Maple felt the urge to address this taboo topic, giving a voice to people ‘Othered’ and politically alienated from society.

Sarah Maple brexit

Sarah Maple Brexit indian

Sarah Maple Brexit campaign

Image Credits: Sarah Maple

"Sarah Maple’s artwork is unfailingly bold and brave, not for the coy or faint of heart. These unflinching, occasionally even controversial, investigations into what it is to be a woman and a Muslim in 21st century Britain are made joyful by her own very personal brand of boisterous, tongue-in-cheek humour. This is not sensationalism for sensationalism’s sake, but rather a heart felt urge by a twenty-seven-year old artist of great sincerity and talent, for the viewer to look again, and this time with a more questioning eye, at traditionally accepted notions of identity, gender, culture and religion." - Beverley Knowles 2012


Sarah Maple penis

Image Credit: Sarah Maple

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