Originally from Adelaide, Sarah Rowe (AKA Miss Moresby) studied Fine Art, majoring in Printmaking and Painting. Following a move to Melbourne, she studied Textile Design and went on to work in the industry for companies such as Country Road and Sheridan. “I returned to painting a couple of years ago. I loved working in textile design, but the corporate world was becoming less and less me, so I decided to plunge headlong into my own art practice! I have always been interested in art. I’m drawn in by colour! I love that there are endless possibilities for making compositions. I’m very motivated by the challenge of taking any given shape or colour to make a composition that technically works and also says something about my interests or feelings at the time. The response to my work has become an additional delight because the viewer sometimes sees my work differently to me, which is very welcome and fascinating too!”
Sarah works from her home studio in Eltham, with podcasts as her constant companion. “I have a great sunny spot which looks into the chicken coop and a big wattle tree which is flowering at the moment.” She draws inspiration from a range of sources; nature, animals, patterns, colour combinations, fashion, textiles, music, travel, her own subconscious, along with the work of other artists. “I am a true devotee of Matisse and the Fauves. My other more current favourites are Emily Besser, Amy Wright, William La Chance, Norman Gilbert and Miroco Machiki and Florence Hutchings. I can’t forget Australians Jenny Kee and Ken Done – they did a good job of showing my younger self that working with colour in art or textiles can be a viable way to spend your life if creativity is your strength.”
Sarah works with oil paint, building her abstract artworks up in layers and layers. “Colour is such a huge part of my work, I like to use paint that will give me the clearest, brightest, truest colour result. I love mixing colours too; there’s a ‘butteriness’ about oil paint that makes it such a joy to work with. I also use collage. As a quiltmaker, it seems natural to me to chop up paintings and then put them back together again. I am collecting woodworking tools in order to make my painted timber collage compositions. Sometimes I work on a pre-conceived composition, but often not. I’m kept motivated to finish if I don’t know how a painting will look in the end. I don’t like being locked in, it spoils the adventure!”
“Sometimes the themes I like to explore are entirely about myself. Abstract images can be the result of my attempt to find a pathway between my subconscious and my paintbrush. The stream of work I make is almost like a way of understanding or mapping out elements of myself visually that I’m yet to properly understand. The act of painting is a process I use for self-discovery and mental relief."
"On the lighter side, as with so many others at the moment, I like plants and still life. These subjects are a good way to explore colour relationships, composition and form. With this genre, I like to keep things loose, leaving weirdness or unresolved areas on purpose. I’m not keen on a polished, flawless ending. Instead, I like to leave areas rough or strange or lumpy which helps create a kind of push/pull, wabi-sabi painting – infinitely more engaging than colouring in between the lines!"
When considering her highlights, Sarah describes the joy of having her artwork hung in special places. “The Epworth Hospital hung two of my paintings in their maternity ward which I’m very proud of. Being the mother of three boys, I know how upside-down you feel when you’ve just had a baby. It’s heart-warming to know that a couple of my paintings are there to give mums something uplifting to look at as they get to know their new baby and find their feet again.”
See Forman’s range of delightful Sarah Rowe artworks here!