The Bridge Interviews
“I feel the need to create something every day”
This month The Bridge went to interview the artist Sally Wyatt at her studio in Fulbrook. Sally is participating in North Oxfordshire Artworks later this month. Many of her paintings can be viewed on her website www.sallywyatt.com
The Bridge How did you come to live in this area?
Sally Wyatt My husband Peter and I were both brought up in the Maidenhead area. We had lived in various places but we had always hoped to bring up our children in the country. The chance came in 1991 when Peter, who is a horticulturist, got a new job in Banbury and we bought our cottage here
Bridge What work did you do when you first came here?
SW I've always been associated with textiles and needlework. I used to make quirky lampshades for our vintage shop 'French Grey' at the top end of Burford High Street in the early Noughties. That lampshade range was bought by Liberty's and I continued to make them until the famous Arts and Crafts department closed in recession. I am happy never to make another. I have done silversmithing, pottery and dressmaking. I still make curtains when I am not painting. I feel the need to create something every day.
Bridge What else have you and your family do locally?
SW Both girls attended Burford Primary School and Burford School. They have long since fledged and about 10 years ago we started offering bed and breakfast. I enjoy that and we find the people who stay with us are lovely. Peter is the chef and prepares breakfast for the guests. Polly went to Chelsea School of Art and is now a botanical artist. Lucy is a cordon bleu patisserie chef. I was involved with the schools when the girls were there and with the Fulbrook Amenities Group. Nowadays the B&B, painting and curtain making have taken over my life
Bridge Did you do painting earlier in your life?
SW I did O Level art and was always good at drawing. I thought of going to art school but decided to read geography at university. I don’t regret that. It gave me a good understanding of things like geology, meteorology and plant ecology which have been very helpful to me as a landscape painter.
Bridge When did you decide to take up painting again?
SW We all need a change in direction now and again. In 2014 I decided to learn to paint. Weekly classes at Cirencester, workshops, YouTube and a lot of practice got me hooked. What might have been a lovely new hobby turned out to be a life changer. I sold well from the outset and thank the gallery at Burford Garden Centre for giving me my first break. I spent 2015 driving to and fro to Cornwall, lucky to have been selected to receive mentoring from leading artists associated with The Newlyn School of Art. I also wish to thank Oxford based artist tutor, Kieran Stiles, for guiding me at the beginning of a challenging year of critique.
Bridge What happened next?
SW This year, the Brian Sinfield Gallery in Burford have taken me on as a new artist. Naturally I feel very proud to be represented by a gallery that is so highly regarded in the art world. I'm painting at Cogges Museum as their 'artist in residence'. They offered me studio space in the attic of the Manor House and I will show a solo exhibition in 2017, 'A year at Cogges’, responding to the seasonal changes in that beautiful oasis of garden, farmland and wilderness just a short stroll from the Waitrose car park.
Bridge How long does it take you to do a painting?
SW It varies enormously. A watercolour can take as little as three sessions but oil paintings need much more. I start off by doing a colour sketch in a bit of a frenzy using chalk and pastel. Then I start painting, building the picture up layer after layer. I don’t have a clear idea at the start of what the finished painting will look like. It evolves and becomes more abstract as I work on it.
Bridge What plans have you for the future?
SW In addition to my work at Cogges, I would like ultimately to be a full-time artist but that is not easy to achieve. After having been taken on by a prestigious gallery In Burford I want to find other similar galleries where I can exhibit.
Bridge What are you doing in North Oxfordshire Artweeks?
SW I shall have open studio afternoons from 21 to 30 May at Star Cottage, Fulbrook (close to the war memorial). Buying or not buying, it’s lovely to talk to people who may be interested and to those who share the passion. Please pop in. There will be cake.
Kieran Stiles www.artcoursesoxford.com recently wrote as follows about Sally
It's been very exciting seeing the rapid and feverish development of her work, which always reveals an impressive understanding of the creative process.
In her landscapes you can see her characteristic vigorous mark making and intriguing layers. Expressive hedgerows and thickets draw you in.
Her creative open mindedness and ability to experiment with new stimuli is always evident in her work, keeping it fresh and vibrant.
It is clear how passionate and impressively capable in equal measures she is, both in the cerebral and practical areas of her work.