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Sarah Bailey

Portrait Artist based in Mid Devon


Prize Winner and Exhibitor at the Royal West of England Academy Annual Open Exhibition 2019

Artist Statement

“As for myself, I work the way I do because of the kind of person I am – my work is an expression of myself. It reflects me, my fascination with people, the physical world around us, and the exciting medium in which I work. I do not claim that my way is the best or the only way, it is simply my way. It is an expression of myself, of the way I think and feel.”  _ Arnold Newman, A life in Photography. 
My current body of work is constantly developing by exploring the varying approaches to physical and emotional representation. I have previously used oil paint to render a sense of character within my portraiture by utilising the qualities of Gesture, Persona and Pose. These features then became relevant in my practice as I wished to move away from the conventional self-portrait. My work more recently explores the intricacies of female mental health and the impermanence of state of mind. The figures take on a universal anonymity with a removed gaze to become empty vessels for emotional reflection.

 I re-learnt the technical processes necessary for successful oil painting and started to exaggerate the gestural qualities of oil paint rather than using them simply to achieve likeness. In doing so, the mark making becomes a reminder of the inter-subjectivity inherently linked to the process of painting and draws attention to the lingering presence of the artist. This creates a dialogue between the viewer, subject and artist and therefore a sense of intimacy which can often be lost through mindlessly looking.

Because I consider a portrait to have dual representation, I find that my work becomes both introspective and reflective of my environment. This means that my work can move between mediums and subjects whilst embodying the same underlying concepts around character and gesture. This freedom within the format of the modern portrait has been influenced by the work of other artists such as Cindy Sherman and Arnold Newman. Like Newman, the work I create could be considered a reflective self-portrait, made up of the people most relevant in my life and who unknowingly influence my practice day to day.

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