One of the easier questions we have been asking ourselves here at Baily’s was a question prompted by the Society of Equestrian artist exhibition – and that is, “Is it necessary for an artist to have gone to art school to develop their talent?”
We have come to the conclusion that the answer is in the negative.
Certainly we are not alone in this view, and to quote no less authority than Henri Matisse
//“Creation is the artist’s true function. But it would be a mistake to ascribe creative power to an inborn talent. Creation begins with vision. The artist has to look at everything as though seeing it for the first time.”//
So there you have it – and this sense of seeing things anew is possibly, when combined of course with a natural talent, what enabled Sarah Clegg ‘a typical horse-mad child’ to have two paintings exhibited in Via Margutta, the famous ‘artist’s street’ in Rome, at 13.
Starting her working life not behind an artists easel, but as Countryside Ranger, and also an Education Manager,which involved introducing children to the countryside and explaining to them that the countryside is not a zoo but a place of industry, with the cycle of life and death visible to all who care to look has given Sarah a true conservationists perspective on rural life.
Having been brought up in ‘Munning’s Country’ , Sarah is now based in Knutsford Cheshire, where she finds time to paint whilst also dealing with the ‘obsessive’ fishing and shooting interests of the rest of the family.
It was via a family friend however, that Sarah became a local hunting supporter, her local hunts, The Cheshire and The Cheshire Forest, are a particular favourite source of subject matter, but commissioned work takes her the length and breadth of the UK and further afield including as far as Africa to paint two dogs. Returning closer to home, her hunting paintings have led to an appreciative audience and commissions from the racing and polo communities, with works such as ‘Second Time Around’
instantly transporting the viewer to a closely contested race over jumps.
Having said that, her ability to move from genres such as still life through hunting hounds to the high speed action of the polo field whilst being able to retain the bond between her subject and its environment is not one that has been, or can be easily learnt, but is an innate talent and despite using a variety of media this ability to capture the essence of her subject’s character has remained her trademark from the very beginning of her artistic career.
For example in ‘Out of the Copse’ [[img:2|right]]painted in 2005 the viewer is transported to the action of a member of hunt staff ‘getting to the action’ through a mixed woodland dominated by silver birch. This is a complex painting with as much effort being paid to the interplay of light in the copse against the tree trunks as the was in painting the grey. It would not have worked as well with a horse of any other colour. However in ‘Silent Bond’ [[img:3|right]]
we again have a grey but the eye is draw to the relationship between the hound and huntsman and the grey hunter here is used almost as a ‘stage’ from which we can better view the relationship which is played out against an almost minimalist background. However if we leap forward to later works such as ‘Maybe Next Season’ [[img:4|right]]and ‘Off Duty’ [[img:5|right]]again painted in oils and both completed in 2007 we are treated to a much less intense use of colour and light and a deft almost pastel style which depicts the resting hounds and the inquisitive hound pups with a very simple background which complements the hazy ‘impressionistic’ style and hence providing the proof of Henri Matisses’s statement above
Sarah Clegg should definitely be on a list of ‘artists to collect’ and we are delighted that her original paintings are on permanent display in the UK at the The Fieldart Collection at Plantation Nr Knutsford, Cheshire and are also regularly exhibited in London and, Newmarket as well as the larger country shows including Lowther, Windsor, CLA Game Fair, Midland Game Fair and Scottish Game Fair. Her limited edition prints are fast gaining popularity amongst the hunting community in both the Irish Republic as well as the US, or the portfolio can be seen online at http://www.sarahclegg.co.uk.