“London is my home and my muse” – conversation with Sarah Fosse
If you live, work or simply visit London, you can’t escape The Shard. Since it was built in 2013 it has literally grown on me with its 306 metres. It has become a very familiar sight, but I have never seen it before the way London-based artist Sarah Fosse does. In a couple of her amazing paintings The Shard of Glass is portrayed as curvy lines. These paintings are part of Sarah’s ‘wobbly series’ depicting some of London’s famous landmarks and iconic views in a beautiful and unique way. It may have just been raining, but the puddles in front of The Gherkin and St Andrew Undershaft burst with an incredible palette of vibrant colours and so does the Thames as it comes alive with the reflections of Canary Wharf or St Paul’s Cathedral.
It is in Canary Wharf in The East End that Sarah and I meet in a lovely Italian restaurant. My very first question is about her unique style that I find so fascinating, with its lines and colours. “I used to paint in a more realistic style. I even did portraits once.” Sarah admits openly. “Since I moved here, I’ve spent so much time walking past these tall buildings of glass and steel and being captivated by their distorted wobbly reflections on the river. I loved the reflections and started painting them. Then I thought I could take it further by abstracting the actual buildings themselves using simplified curving lines. I love focusing on pure form, vibrant colour and light, but to be honest a lot simply happened through play and experimentation. It is indeed a bit of a childlike approach. I’ve always been inspired by Fauvism and especially by Derain and Matisse. Like them I’m obsessed with colour, its energy, strength, its potential. This ‘wobbly style’ has simply evolved. By the way, someone has called it ‘deconstructed divisionism’. ” She adds with a lovely smile.
Our tasty looking food has just arrived and as I ask the next question I realise I have a dilemma whether to hold my fork and eat or continue taking the notes down. It must be quite a sight as I attempt multitasking. “You’ve lived in many places around the world including Australia and The Caribbean, why did you decide to make London your home?” I pick up my pen, leaving my pasta alone for a moment.
The answer comes or rather flows as Sarah tells me about her love for London: “London is full of subject matter. I’ve been living and working here for the last 10 years. It’s been 10 years of passion for this city. London is my home and my muse. In my Waterloo studio I hear the chimes of Big Ben and look at the iconic London Eye. I see the reflections in the Thames and hear the sounds of this beautiful river. I capture those moments in time in the lines of my paintings and I use vibrant colours to show London’s strength, its soul.” It is incredible to listen to Sarah share her love for London. It is obvious now why the city that was meant to be just her 6 –month adventure before migrating to Australia, ended up being her final port.
Time flies as we chat about London, art and life, eat good food and enjoy some nice wine. We will soon have to call it a day but I’m dying to find out what other buildings and views Sarah would love to paint. I am really pleased she mentions the view of The Old Royal Naval College with Canary Wharf as a backdrop. Just a few weeks earlier I was taking Sarah round in Greenwich hoping she would find it inspiring. “I would love to add a bus on the road here.” she adds pointing to Romney Road as we look at the photo on her mobile phone. “I will paint St Paul’s Cathedral again as well. I have painted it before with The Millennium Bridge, but I’d like to depict it now from the road and with some buses and taxis. I really love painting iconic London vehicles” Sarah adds yet with another smile.
It’s now that magical time when day becomes night and Sarah gets fascinated by the display of colours we can see through the glass door we are sitting by. “It would be great to paint those dark blue umbrellas outside against that building” She says.
“Why do you paint, Sarah?” I ask finally. I know she used to work in the financial and health sectors though she has been creating art ever since she could pick up a pen as a child. “I’ve realised I just can’t do anything else and feel happy. I’ve always been at my happiest when drawing or painting something. I am not saying it is always easy but it is my life.”
The restaurant has grown quiet and it must be time to go, but I want to ask one morething: “Your mother is an artist, what is your earliest memory of her as an artist?” Sarah pauses for a brief moment: “It must have been when I was 7 years old or so. I was allowed to stay up and wait for my mum to come back home from her art classes. Then she would show me her sketches and drawings. My mum now lives and paints in The South of France and when I go there I fall under the spell of the light and the colours of the countryside. I love it, I love to paint it but I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here in London and in Canary Wharf.”
We finally leave the restaurant and admire the blue and pink sky and just a tiny silhouette of The Shard far, far away in the distance. London never ceases to inspire I think as Sarah and I say goodbye but I feel that our paths will cross again. London is our home and our muse after all.
This article has focused only on certain aspects of Sarah Fosse’s art and life. Please visit her website to discover much more about Sarah Fosse and her art www.sarahfosse.com
Don’t miss a fantastic opportunity to appreciate Sarah’s art at these upcoming exhibitions in London:
New Artist Fair, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London, E1, 5-7 September 2014
Open Studios, Make Space Studios, Newnham Terrace, London SE1, 20 – 23 November 2014