Payen’s work focuses on the object-ness of painting in space and exploring an ambiguous relationship between representation and self-symbolic mystery; Key subjects have included protest and democracy in painting, film, and archive; investigating how non-violent protest can alter time-scape when it lands in a painting. In recent years there has been a weird triangle between exploring history painting, feminine knitting and sewing, and repetition. Payen had a solo exhibition at MAC Birmingham exploring aspects of the anti-nuclear protests and women's peace camps that took place at Greenham Common in the 1980s.
Born in Oxford UK, Sally began painting in her teenage years inspired by the music, fashion and protest of the 1980s, which was sometimes close to her suburban doorstep. Educated in painting at Brighton Polytechnic and attending the painting school of the RCA when it was housed in the V&A; Payen’s ideas became shaped by modernism and Indian painting, visiting the collection in the V&A became a big part of her MA studies. Payen completed a practice-based PhD at Brighton University in 2005, she remains influenced in equal parts by the western philosophy of Lyotard and Eastern views.