Sarah Graham’s work is a riot of attention grabbing saturated colour, larger than life and more real than real. She creates vivid representations of her subject that are impossible to ignore; joyous still lifes, bursting with nostalgia and wonderment.
Born in Hitchin, a market town in North Hertfordshire, she describes herself as an extremely conscientious child, recalling enjoying considerable success in most of her studies during her school days, with art being no exception. And remembers finding that subject in particular especially effortless, with most of her waking hours outside of school filled with the enjoyment of creating, whether painting, drawing or making; a passion she shared with her sister.
Her obvious flair for the arts led to a natural progression in the form of further study, and Sarah completed her BA (Hons) in Fine Art painting from De Montfort University, Leicester in 2000. While at university Sarah discovered the artistic movement, photorealism, and found herself heavily influenced by US artists such as Ralph Goings, Chuck Close and Audrey Flack, something that is still obviously very much present in her work today.
Sarah was determined to make her passion into a career and describes a mix of chance encounters, lucky breaks and relentless determination to launch her into the successful position that she holds today in the art world. Whilst working part time in a pub in Reading, Sarah managed to persuade the Brewery that it would be a good idea to convert the unused upstairs into a spacious gallery. Completing the project with friends from university, this became her first professional outlet for her work. When this venture became no longer tenable, Sarah was forced to not only find a new space to work, but also storage for pieces already created. Worried that her precious art would end up in a skip, she asked a local gallery (Jelly Leg’d chicken) if they could possibly store a beachscape for her, they were not only agreeable, but sold it for £1,000 before the week was out.
Despite this extremely promising start, the next few years were not easy and there followed more rejections than offers from the galleries she approached. Income rarely came from sales of her work. However, Sarah’s dogged determination meant that she didn’t give up on her dream and continued to paint, producing a sizeable body of images which led to her first exhibition in London. Her own studio (once living back in her home town of Hitchin) followed, and with everything falling into place, a month later in 2007 she was signed to a major UK fine art art publisher.
Each individual piece of Sarah’s striking art generally begins as idea that Sarah will attempt to capture as a carefully staged and composed photograph, taken in her studio. The subjects chosen often seem to radiate a certain childhood innocence, speaking of happiness and wonder, and are very likely to raise a smile in the viewer. However, Sarah rightly ascertains that while she has no objections to descriptions of her work as being ‘playful’ or ‘even ‘kitsch’, within it lies a serious practice and an overwhelming desire to master every brushstroke.
“I am entirely motivated by colour, and as a realist painter, along with being a big kid at heart, this inevitably lead to the subject matter of toys and sweets. It allows me to explore extremely vivid colour, and at the same time manipulate the structure and form of an image, having trawled sweet shops, markets, eBay, and my mum’s attic, to find my subject”
Working almost exclusively in oil on canvas, each photograph is translated onto canvas by lightly sketching with yellow acrylic, followed by a more detailed ‘under painting’ which serves as a reference and guide for the final painting. The large blended areas of Sarah’s work are formed using a laborious, continuous sweeping motion and alongside her sharp, precise sections of almost hyper realism, create a recognisable stylistic motif.
Sarah’s work is instantly recognisable and widely available both as originals and as limited edition prints. Widely collected across the globe, her pieces can be found in private collections spanning Europe, Australia, the USA, Australia, South Africa and the Middle East. In 2012 Sarah was approached by the frontman of British band Kaiser Chiefs with a request for a commission for their forthcoming album;
“Ricky Wilson, the lead singer first approached me, after seeing my work in a gallery in Leeds, to paint their third album, that fell through but we became friends as he was a fan of painting and photo realism, and I was a fan of getting to their gigs! Four years later, he text me asking ‘how long would it take to paint the end of a stick of rock?”
The conversation that followed was to lead to the stunning artwork for the cover of the Kaiser Chiefs singles collection ‘Souvenir’. Sarah’s work also features in the collection of Standard Chartered Bank who have commissioned various pieces from Sarah, including a self- portrait.
We are thrilled to present a stunning collection of Sarah’s contemporary work, why not check it out today?