Creativity runs in the Burges family for painter Sarah, who is exhibiting at Pelham House in Lewes until April 1, is the daughter of Sussex Express photographer Peter Burges.
Peter was with the Express for forty years and became its chief photographer, so it’s hardly surprising that his daughter Sarah should also be inspired by the world around her. While Peter spent his life studying his subjects through a lens, Sarah captures hers through paint and canvas.
Sarah loves the work of the Impressionists and it is their free style that has influenced her since she first picked up a paintbrush less than four years ago.
She trained as a china restorer and has been repairing much loved ceramics for customers from all over Sussex for many years now. But her life changed when she took a studio above the Hop Gallery in Lewes and watched artist Colin Merrin at work.
“I watched him paint for months,” says Sarah “and one day, on my way home, I bought some canvas and decided I would have a go.”
From that moment she knew what she wanted to do. Working in oils she painted land- and seascapes and then turned her attention to garden flowers.
People began to buy her work, mainly from the gallery in Lansdown Place, Lewes, but she began to exhibit further afield, in Brighton, Alfriston, Battle and Forest Row.
She has taken part in the annual Lewes Artwave festival and last year took a stand at the Brighton Art Fair with Colin.
Lewes artist Michael Cooper has been a huge inspiration and it was he who taught her how to bring her love of the Impressionists to her own work.
Sarah’s work has an energy and vitality which is quite unique. She loves the freedom of working in oils and her paintings blaze with colour and life. Her choice of subject – whether flowers from the garden or the grandeur of the Sussex Downs – is dictated solely by her mood.
“I just love to paint,” she says, “and it hardly matters whether I sell or not.”
She first launched on the Sussex art scene when she sent a portrait of her daughter Charlotte to the Battle Contemporary Art Fair. The organisers took two further paintings.
One of her pictures – a huge painting of crocuses – was sold to a couple with a house in Barbados, who obviously wanted a reminder of the Sussex countryside.
Sarah continues to restore china at her studio in Lansdown Place, but if you pop in to visit her, there is the added bonus of seeing some of her paintings stacked against the walls.
Sarah will be showing fifteen flower studies at Pelham House in St Andrew’s Lane from February 20 until April 1. This exhibition is bound to lift your spirits and will help you realise that spring is not that far away.