Sarah Wakeford: Light, Air and Space

Blue Mountain

WASPS Studios, Edinburgh, Sat 4 & Sun 5 Oct


‘I see myself as a decorative artist,’ says Sarah Wakeford, ‘rather than one who wants to make a big political statement or anything like that. I paint things which I find attractive.’ It seems somewhat ironic that this is Wakeford’s view because her own landscape art – which will be on show for the duration of this weekend at WASPS’ Dalry studios – is counterbalanced by her day job in community art projects.

Undertaking printmaking residencies at a psychiatric unit in Bristol, as Wakeford has done, might not lie at the more fashionable end of the art world’s spectrum, but it’s arguably a more socially useful deployment for an artist than just about any other.

‘Working in situations like this is a challenge for me as a person and as an artist,’ she says. ‘You’re working with people who are very unhappy in some cases, so it’s as much a social thing as it is an artistic endeavour. You’re trying to build confidence and make people more willing to talk about their ideas.’

It’s no wonder then that Wakeford sees a definite split between this work and the art she makes entirely on her own terms. Although the Edinburgh College of Art graduate enjoys working in tandem with others during community projects, her usual practice is a solitary studio-based one. She creates landscape images in ink and oil, which are sourced from photographs of locations she has visited. The paintings that will be shown here are of Iceland, and Wakeford is currently finishing off a series of between 15 and 20 of them.

‘I’ve always been interested in landscapes and seascapes,’ Wakeford says, ‘and Iceland seemed to me like the perfect place to see these. Since I came back I’ve been abstracting an atmosphere of the place in a palette of blues and whites, by which I mean that I’m using the shapes in the landscape as motifs, not making straight photorealist copies of the images I already have. Artistic licence, I think they call it! What’s important to me, though, is the sense of place, and recapturing what it felt like to be in the location at that time.’

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