About the 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. 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.
The following statement is from the opening of Dr. Gray's exhibition of the 36 Paintings connected to her PhD written thesis. The statement is by Dr. Richard Hook - a longtime art lecturer at Wollongong University in New South Wales, Australia.
All of her paintings are from a mapping viewpoint and mirror the title of her written thesis - The Cartographic Paradigm in Contemporary Australian Landscape Painting: Concepts of Ownership, Belonging and Place 1950-2014.
"Robert Rosenblum's 1975 study of landscape painting, from the northern European transcendentalist tradition through to American Abstract Expressionism, has not been matched, as far as I'm aware, by any other comparable study of landscape painting based on empirical observation, beginning with say Turner's topographic work, Constable, Corot, the Impressionists and through 20th Century abstraction via a lineage that takes in Matisse, de Kooning, Kline, Pollock, Joan Mitchell, Maria da Silva, Richard Diebenkorn, John Passmore, Fred Williams and contemporary painters such as Sean Scully, Per Kirkeby and Brendan Stewart Burns. The work of these painters is mostly without metaphysical pretensions as it negotiates perceptual experience through a dialectic of figuration and abstraction. I would place Sarah Willard Gray within this empirical tradition.
Whatever else they are, her paintings are sensuous responses to the places she loves: we can see it in the rich, deep earthy reds and muted greens and purples, the soft creams and lovely textures and the shimmer of paint. This is her poetry of place, responding to the here and now.