Sarah is primarily a pastel artist. Her fabulous jewel-like pictures, often depicting incredible sunsets and wet beaches with intensity of colour and atmosphere, are to be seen in her studio in Eden Valley Artistic Network Gallery, other galleries and venues in Cumbria, as well as on various forms of media. She is inspired by the light and colour of the Lake District, the Eden Valley and the Solway Coast, and just loves ‘huge skies and big beaches’. Sarah described how many people think her work is very abstract until she explains to them what she has seen in nature then suddenly it all makes sense; they just hadn’t spotted it.
Art has always played a large part of her life, but it wasn’t until a conversation with a lady named Jean Gordon that she really started developing her work. After showing Jean a sketch of her dog ‘Honey’, Jean suggested Sarah should take a painting course. She didn’t know at the time, but Jean was a fine art graduate alongside her friend, Sheila Fell. Jean later became a senior lecturer; amongst her students (and friends) was Percy Kelly. Sarah took Jean's advice and enrolled herself on a watercolour course with Ron Ablewhite, whilst also continuing to be mentored by Jean. Sarah learnt to perfect watercolour painting and began to develop her own style. She also met and became friends with many other artists, including Anna McKay with whom she now shares a studio space. Sarah began to exhibit locally but was frustrated by the constraints of watercolours on her emerging style.
“I enjoyed working with watercolour but it was not giving me the expression I needed. I’d inherited a set of pastels and decided to have a play with them, just like that I was hooked and it was the start of a whole new journey”.
"You seem to me, without doubt my most dedicated and exploratory student. I really admire what you're doing and it's so refreshing to see how you continue to develop and haven't turned into a "hill, tree and a lake (in detail)" clone! Keep it up."
Ron Ablewhite (Artist)
Sarah tells me how she is inspired by many artists but at the moment it is Joan Eardley for her expressive landscapes and coastal views, Mark Rothko whose work aims to evoke emotion in the viewer and Barbara Rae, a Scottish painter whose landscapes are conveyed through her use of colour composition and line.
As a result of lockdown, in collaboration with EVAN musicians, Sarah produced and posted a video of her creating one of her atmospheric pastel pieces while listening to Pete Rowan's music. After many positive comments this has resulted in three further pieces with Peter Moran and Jilly Jarman, who produced music for Sarah to work to. Now she is looking at working with Mind in her ‘Creating a New Rhythm Project’.
Sarah explained, “If I can make even just one person feel better through my art then it will be worthwhile”.
The piece shown on the left was submitted to Inspired by Lakeland who have brought artists together producing the book, ‘Through the Locking Glass’, celebrating the creativity and resilience of Cumbrian artists during lockdown. Sarah’s work is also featured in other titles: ‘Women – Inspirational Quotes and Artistic Responses’ by Nichola Wild, Wordsworth… and the cover for Allie Cresswell’s ‘Tall Chimneys’, as well as the CD cover for the album ‘Lull’, a collection of songs performed by EVAN musicians under lockdown.
You can find some examples of her work at the EVAN Gallery, Penrith. Her work can also be seen in The Lemon Tree Café and Bistro, Devonshire arcade, Penrith. She usually shows at many more venues throughout the year and hopes that next year will see a return to exhibitions.
Sarah’s atmospheric work is stunning, but I feel it is also important to recognise her essential role in the Eden Valley Artistic Network Gallery. She works incredibly hard as part of the management team and curator of all the art work there. She makes it her business not just to know all the contributing artists’ work, but takes time out to speak to them individually and to know how they work. She is largely responsible for the up-keep and the overall look of the interior, not only organising exhibitions, but often redecorating too. She was integral in producing a risk assessment in order to be able to open the Gallery after the lockdown during the pandemic.
Sarah is an inspiration to us all in every way.