Sarah Jack - Artist

I begin my artwork on a board which gives me the opportunity to mis-shapen it if I wish.  For larger pieces I will use canvas, but, for me, a canvas has less scope.  Then when I start to layer up the textures I become completely absorbed in overlapping torn pieces of paper and fragments of card, using pastes, gesso, cotton, wire, string or nails to make each piece work.  I love getting lost in the texturing process, aiming to create an intriguing surface full of feeling, movement and aiming to evoke an emotional experience through how the materials fall on the board, both intentionally and through happy accidents. At some point I might then rip off certain textures which can add further depths, cracks and crevasses and add to the expression of the piece.  True life news clippings or accounts of lives from parish records from the 19th century might then be woven in amidst the layers.

I like portraying  old, weather-worn, isolated and derelict cottages, farms or outbuildings with dramatic skies using the materials to capture the scene.    My aim is to put into my art the deep experience we have when we are absorbed by something so moving and captivating - a something we cannot put into words as they do not do justice to the experience we are having. Overall my intention is to put into my pieces, feelings we have when we see beauty in nature or in  history, a roof that has it's rafters exposed, a building that has part collapsed, crumbling plaster and the traces of peeling paint on an old wall from decades before, skies to get lost in or trees gripping our attention as they blow in the wind.

I'm inclined towards a mix of media, acrylics or inks, before bringing the piece together with the use of oils.  This process creates depths and ages my artwork, with textures being revealed from underneath the pigment.  I use a limited palette when it comes to colour, very often inclined towards blues.   I  also like to experiment with the effects that wire, scraping, wiping and sanding can have on the mood of a piece often using my hands, rags or spatulas.

With my earlier figurative work I enjoyed capturing the body as if it were a landscape.  Then I began to experiment with deeper textures and thus began my run-down harbour scenes and seascapes, which evolved into old mills and factories.   Of late, I find myself drawn to isolated cottages and farmsteads, a slight return to my earlier, less deeply textured pieces.

My artwork has been displayed in many galleries around the UK over the last decade, but at present will be found around the south west of England, at the Steam Gallery, in Beer in Devon or the Gallery on the Square in Poundbury in Dorset.  Every two years, I open my studio to the public during the Dorset Art Weeks, which are held at the end of May, the next one being May/June 2018.  My work can also be found at the Affordable Art Fairs, Battersea and Hampstead each year.

 

Semi-scuptural artwork with texture and emotion.

 

My artwork has texture and dimension and recalls images of the distant past. I sometimes use articles from early newspapers as inspiration - you can see samples of my work and some of the stories below.

 
Port isaac

Coastal Villages

Life around the Coast

For those who lived in villages around the coastline, life was tough.    

The York Herald, in 1874 stated:  Most of the inhabitants were fishermen, rough, uncouth men as rugged as the rocks that raised their frowning fronts in defiance of North Sea waves; men, the greater number of whom had never seen the inside of a school-house and who listened to the call of the church bell only when it was rung in foggy weather to guide them in safety to their harbor. They believed the great end of life consisted in catching many fish as possible and, believing this, they pursued their calling with zeal.

Seascapes

The Power of the seas

The storms at sea sank many a ship or blew the vessels onto the dangerous reefs around our shores.

The Western Morning News, in 1867, reported: The coastguard man at Prussia Cove observed a vessel that appeared to be embayed.  About midnight, a large ship was driven ashore at Mullion and became a total wreck.  The captain, his wife, some members of his family and the entire crew except one met with a watery grave. It is stated that twenty one persons have lost their lives in the wreck of the ill-fated ship.  It appears that she was laden with coffee.  The man who alone was saved is in such a weak state that his life is despaired of.

Cottage on the Moor

Landscapes

Life on the Land

At the end of the 18th century, most people lived in villages or on farms.  Life for farmers was particularly difficult.  Gradually, the Industrial Revolution was born and jobs in the countryside became fewer.  

The Berkshire Chronicle, in 1848, under the heading of 'Incendiary Fire' stated:  

About nine o’clock on Monday night last, a fire discovered to have broken out in a hay rick at Stretton Court Farm (about four miles from this city), in the occupation of Mr. Pearce.  A message was immediately sent to Hereford for the engines, and very shortly two were upon the spot.  The supply of water was excellent, and with willing hands two wheat-ricks near to the hay rick on fire, with a barn, were happily preserved.  At first the wind blew the flame from the grain, but it afterwards changed, and seemed to threaten the destruction of the food, sparks falling all around, but by keeping the wheat-ricks moist, and checking and confining the fire as much as possible, the destruction was not so great as was at one time feared.  The quality of hay destroyed was about 40 tons, but the property was insured.  There is, we regret to add, no doubt that the fire was the act of an incendiary.

Alum in the Flour 2.jpg

Mills

Life in the Mills and Factories

In the nineteenth century, many people moved from the outlying villages, leaving their cottage industries to work in the industrial towns.  Life was hard working in the factories and cloth mills; accidents happened often and the loss of a job could lead to a life in the workhouse. 

One newspaper reported:  Yesterday week, an accident occurred at the mill of Mr. Swaikes, flax-spinner, without Walmgate Bar, in the suburbs of York, which might have proved fatal.  It appears that a boy of the name of Williamson was standing in the mill, when a strap slipped off a wheel, and some part of the machinery fell upon his head, by which he was much hurt; but he is in a fair way of recovery.