The work of Sarah Simonds-Gooding, our cover artist, has been on our radar for a while. During a recent exhibition at the newly established Winning Gallery in East Molesey, her work impressed, with the scale and detail involved, and on close inspection, the messaging. It left us intrigued to find out more about the artist, and her way of working…
Words | Kim Craig
What really draws my eye is the repetition in Sarah’s work – visually pleasing grids of colour, texture and shapes. Perhaps it’s my sensibilities as a fellow graphic designer, that these things appeal to me.
Sarah’s training and background is in graphic design, having studied at Canterbury School of Art. With a passion for art from a young age, she pursued a creative career. “I didn’t have a fixed idea of what that might mean, so it was a case of venturing out on my own journey of discovery.” That journey began as an art director in London, from which followed a move into retail as a buyer of art, gifts and furniture.
Making art is key in Sarah’s life, and after having two children, it became a true focus for her and an important element in gaining balance in her work and home life, taking her natural creativity in a new and exciting direction. “Art is a form of therapy for me, it creates a space where I can be totally absorbed, throwing out thoughts and ideas that no-one else sees unless I choose to share them,” she tells me.
It’s a liberating approach, and as one who is used to responding to the demands and briefs of paying clients, I totally understand the therapeutic aspects of producing something for it’s own sake. A lot of that creative spark was lost during the lockdowns though, something else that I can relate to! “Lockdown was an absolute killjoy for my creativity,” she shares. “I genuinely thought I would use the time to explore and expand new ideas, but I found it incredibly stifling.”
The repetition and order in Sarah’s work that I find so appealing is a constant theme throughout the majority of her mixed-media work. Her pattern-based approach is a method which helps her to make sense of the ‘muddle’ of real life. “I have always struggled with anything that takes time, so I tend to work small or in parts. I look for patterns in everything – with pattern comes harmony,” she explains.
Sarah describes herself as a conceptual, mixed-media artist, with a focus on meanings, messages and purpose. “I create mini pieces which I then collate together to create something which is hopefully more than the sum of it’s parts. Some pieces have obvious messages, others are up for more interpretation, but all the pieces have a personal story or emotion behind them which I hope will connect with the observer.”
Sarah is an introvert, so pushing herself ‘out there’ to connect with those observers, is not what comes most naturally for her. She has felt intimidated in the past in sharing work that is so personal, but having shown work at exhibitions and art fairs her confidence has grown immensely.
The personal and emotional investment definitely comes across in Sarah’s work – intimate and diary-like at times – a record, visually, of the feelings experienced at various stages in her life. “Everyday life inspires me. I love observing the day to day and overhearing snippets of conversations that bring an idea to mind that makes me smile and think.”
Her everyday is Thames Ditton, which she loves, and living within a short walk of the river, the parks and the palace is special to her. “The whole area is a really magical place that never ceases to give me inspiration.”
Well, we couldn’t agree more!