Sally Butcher's art practice is inextricably linked with her theoretical work in Cultural Studies, embracing a more holistic view of the artist as practitioner, scholar and social commentator. This has grown from research areas on the gendered gaze, auto-ethnography and transgressive performativity. She is interested in female subjectivity; most particularly ideas of embodiment as intercorporeality through formations of a culturally desired femininity at odds with a desiring body. She uses subject matter associated with the female, detached and reframed to distort and challenge assumptions of gendered identity within signifying practices. Her work traverses printmaking, drawing, collage and digital and often mixes found imagery with the handmade, drawing into surfaces to explore unexpected visual and textual interactions.
Many pieces draw on formations of gender, power and the manipulation of desire as used in contemporary mass media representations and therefore appropriate such imagery within the work, to explore their power of seductive distortion and ability to structure our way of seeing through everyday consumption. She is also particularly intrigued by the boundaries of gendered surfaces – contrasting ‘real’ surfaces (hair, folds of flesh, skin) with ‘artificial’ surfaces (lace, veils, tights, make up), looking at the cultural and social significance of the adorned female body in acts of concealing and revealing, often caught between the abject and the beautiful.