Words are very important to me as a researcher and artist.
Dr. Sarah Willard Gray PhD is an exuberant, intuitive artist who has been painting and exhibiting for over 25 years. Her work is forceful, supported by fine draughtsmanship and traditional and abstract painting techniques.
She has a love of the landscape, the bush, the hills and the Wingecarribee River on the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Australia.
This basic landscape as narrative is balanced by her expressive execution and used as a platform to play out the act of painting. Her bold and vibrant painting style is infused with personality that reflects her drive and dedication. Sarah’s thorough enjoyment of painting is evident through the essence and grandeur reflected in her confident brushstrokes and dramatic colours.
Sarah has painted out in the landscape for the past years with a focus on the Spanish word ‘Duende” or ‘spirit of the earth’. The landscape is a sanctuary – a sacred place without walls, and to realise it quietly is a spiritual experience. From the time of the Barbizon School (1830-1870), whose members gathered to paint at the village of Barbizon near the Fontanebleau Forest in France, artists have continued to paint plein-air. To experience the sounds and aromas of the landscape is to become aware of another dimension seducing the mind.
Sarah believes that Western traditions of map-making and developments in European and American art histories have naturally informed non-Aboriginal artists, but the land itself as a generative subject, invested as it is with Aboriginal cosmology and mystique, has shaped Australian painting since 1788. It is in this context that my own painting, motivated and endorsed by a close relationship to place, sits within the chronology of map-making as art and art as map-making in Australia.