Born in Oxford UK. Payen attended Brighton Polytechnic (now Brighton University) for her painting degree, she attended the painting school of the RCA when it was housed in the V&A  and her understandings became shaped by modernism and frequent visits to the Indian paintings in the V&A. Payen completed a doctorate at Brighton University in 2005 exploring ideas about time, space and embodiment in painting, supervised by Professor Michael Tucker,  she remains influenced in equal parts by the western philosophy of Lyotard and eastern metaphysical views.

Building on her modernist painting roots Payen started to explore the push and pull of democracy from 2005. Her work has been discussed in terms of history painting and its relationship to conflict and more recently embodied action, erasure and exploration of a feminist mark making. Matt Price explores Payen’s use of the term mélos to understand her approach to painting in the making of a body of work about Greenham Common; ’Mélos is both curious and cryptic and stems from Payen’s interpretation of philosopher and theorist Jean-François Lyotard’s use of the word mélos to describe an aesthetic, poetic, musical - almost religious - experience in the stages before a story has been told and before we can reflect on it’s meanings… For the artist, the process of painting conveys a deep and emotional power that can be felt or understood before knowing or recounting ‘the story’ of Greenham Common. Just as a piece of music without words can capture and convey a profound mood, a moving emotional register, so too can paint’. From the publication and exhibition ‘The Fence and the Shadow’, 2017, MAC Birmingham.

Payen’s work is held in many collections including - Government Art Collection, The New Art Gallery Walsall, The Towner Collection, Royal College of Art, The John Feeney Collection, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Annabel Birtles Collection, Minerva Collection, Jacob Mendolsolm Collection, Swindon Museum and Art Gallery, Hereford Museum and Art Gallery.


  • 2005 Practice-based PhD, University of Brighton
  • 1990 MA Painting Royal College of Arts
  • 1988 BA hons (1st Class) Painting, Brighton Polytechnic


Solo Shows

  • 2021 Uprising, The Art House, Worcester
  • 2017 The Fence and the Shadow, MAC Birmingham
  • 2013 The Chase and the Ambush, Hereford Museum and Art Gallery
  • 2012 Wolverhampton Riots - One Year On' - Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museum
  • 2010 Forever Run, Galleria Gallerati, Rome
  • 2009 Sally Payen- Shingle22, Forte Sangello Art Gallery & Museum Netunno, Rome
  • 2009 Land Grab, Bryant Priest Newman, Birmingham
  • 2004 Neverendingjourney, Brighton University Gallery
  • 1997 Artist in residence programme, Hastings Museum
  • 1997 Charmed Bodies, Cultures Gallery, Brighton Museum
  • 1996 Vessel, Gillingham Museum and Art Gallery, Kent

Group Shows

  • 2023 Watermark, Meadow Arts, Worcester Art Museum
  • 2022 Territory, Slice & PADA Studios, Lisbon art week, Lisbon
  • 2022 Ice in a Sustainable Society, Bizkaia Aretoa, Bilbao
  • 2022 The West Midlands Open, The New Art Gallery, Walsall
  • 2022 The TwentyTwenty Collection, The New Art Gallery, Walsall
  • 2020 Mycorrhiza, AMP Gallery, Peckham, London
  • 2020 Eden, Edgar St, Worcester
  • 2019 Salt Road, Manchester Contemporary
  • 2019 Buffer Zones, Division of Labour, Paradise Works, Manchester
  • 2019 P is for Portrait, Division of Labour, The Art House, University of Worcester
  • 2019 Lab Rats, Greenhill Gallery, Berlin
  • 2018 Sluice Art Fair, Berlin
  • 2018 Taking up Space, Government Art Collection, London
  • 2015 Random Selection, Division of Labour at Worcester Art Gallery
  • 2015 Salon, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • 2015 Manchester Contemporary with Division of Labour, Manchester
  • 2015 Hacking the Archive – projection on Senate House, London
  • 2014/5 Outrider touring to Woolhope Room Hereford, Commandery Worcester, Hive Library Worcester, Winterbourne House and Gardens, Birmingham , Haden Hill House Sandwell
  • 2014/5 West Midlands Open, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • 2014 ART14 London, with Division of Labour and Star Gallery China
  • 2013 Small is beautiful, Flowers Gallery London
  • 2013 Open Worcester
  • 2013 Open Ludlow
  • 2012 Society Weeks Worcester City Gallery
  • 2012 Joint Stock Birmingham
  • 2012 'John + Sally' Division of Labour, Malvern, UK
  • 2011 Some Domestic Incident, MAC Birmingham
  • 2011 Prague Biennale 5, expanded painting UK. Microna, Prague
  • 2011 The Witching Hour, PM gallery and House, London
  • 2010 Grief and Oblivion, Trove, Birmingham
  • 2010 The Witching Hour, Waterhall Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum
  • 2009 PULSE Contemporary Art Fair Miami, Ice Palace. AM group installation, USA
  • 2009 DOK/VIDEO FEST You3B VJ Installation performance artist Kassel Germany
  • 2009 FREEROTATION Video Art Installation Electronic AV Festival, Hay-On-Wye ,UK
  • 2009 Static3, Franklin House, Hereford Photogrphy Festival
  • 2009 ‘War on War’, Shringle 22J, Biennial of Contemporary art, Rome
  • 2008 Selected artist for Visual, Arts and Business, UK
  • 2008 Open 08 West Midlands, Wolverhampton Art Gallery
  • 2008 Static 2, Borderlines Festival, Warehouse Gallery, Gwynne St, Hereford
  • 2007 Static, Hereford Photography Festival, installation, BT Madley satellite relay station
  • 2007 Birmingham Open, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
  • 2006 Borderlines Festival, installation
  • 2005 Untitled, Hereford College of Art
  • 2005 Open, Hereford Museum and Art gallery
  • 2005 Haven, Rotherwas Chapel, English Heritage, Hereford
  • 2004 Neverendingjourney, Brighton Festival
  • 2003 Multi-Media installation, Hereford City Centre multi-site
  • 2001 Open Studios, Red Herring, Phoenix, Brighton
  • 2000 Group show, Brighton Festival
  • 2000 Artists Choice, Flowers East, London
  • 2000 Peterborough Prize, Peterborough Museum and Art gallery
  • 2000 Art Futures, London International Art Fair, London
  • 2000 South East Arts Collection, Towner Art Gallery Eastbourne
  • 2000 South East Arts Collection, Brighton University Gallery
  • 2000 Contemporary Art Market, CAS, Towner Gallery Eastbourne
  • 1994 South East Arts purchase prize and exhibition, Brighton Museum


  • 2018 The Anomie Review of Contemporary British Painting
  • 2017 The Fence and the Shadow, by Mandy Fowler, Matt Price
  • 2010 The Witching Hour publication by Freya Smaill
  • 2010 Art of Ideas publication, edited by Matt Price
  • 2010 Exhibition text by Matt Price for 'Grief and Oblivion', Trove
  • 2010 ACI & Galatea, Roma Associazione Culturale - review 'Forever Run'
  • 2009 Exhibition text by Elisabetta Civitan for Sally Payen at Forte Sangallo di Nettuno, Rome
  • 2008 ‘The Space between Practice’, Longhouse, Birmingham, UK
  • 2006 MADE, Birmingham, Publication Youth Space, A collaborative youth shelter project connecting young people, architects and artists.
  • 2006 Longhouse, Birmingham; Publication People, Identity and Place
  • 2001 Academic Anthropology and the Museum edited by Mary Bouquet
  • 2000 Commissioned writer for Body Image - Mid Sussex District Council
  • 1997 Exhibition Charmed Bodies Exhibition text by Professor Michael Tucker

Awards and Grants

  • ACE for The Fence and the Shadow curated by Mandy Fowler 2012
  • Prize winner, Rome Biennial, Artists against war 2012
  • Pitt Project Space FlagWorks residency
  • 2007-2008 Creative Industries mentor award, working with Matt Price on the production of new paintings entitled 'The Falling'
  • 2002 Research Award, Womens Federation of Education
  • 1997-2002 PhD Research Award, Brighton University
  • 1996 Purchase Prize for painting South East Arts Award
  • 1988 Jacob Mendolsolm Award for painting
  • 1987 Annabel Birtles Award for painting