Sarah Desmarais trained as a painter at Central School of Art in London, before moving in the 1990s to rural Provence, where she focused on landscape painting, working on the spot in oil paint and watercolour. Over the next ten years her work became progressively more abstract and more studio based, springing from an internal world at once dreamlike and informed by the experience of immersion in landscape. After a decade in France, Sarah returned to the UK. She now lives in Rye and exhibits internationally.
Sarah’s current abstract, loosely geometric paintings reference land/sky/seascapes conjured in daydreams and imagination. She continues to be inspired by walking and working by the sea in East Sussex, Cornwall and the Balearic Islands. She’s interested in experiences of awe and enchantment evoked by nature, and is often inspired by poetry in seeking visual equivalents for these.
She enjoys the tension between geometric forms and expressive, organic qualities of brush stroke and freehand drawing that potentially break up this mathematical order, mirroring the interplay of structure and chaos in the material world. She constantly explores the interplay between the flat picture plane and the ambiguous and inviting kind of pictorial space described by Ben Nicholson (Horizon, 1941) as ‘an imaginative world in which one could live’.
Sarah currently works in a variety of media including oil paint, collage and gouache. Her compositions are developed slowly in the studio from a number of different starting points, including working in gouache on paper within a grid, and using collage to generate novel arrangements of forms. She loves the role of play, serendipity, mess and happenstance in the making process, considering the materials she uses as very active participants and collaborators. She works on many pieces at a time, building up layers in paper or oils, and waiting for each painting to tell her the next move or to declare itself finished.