Artist Interview – Being an artist wasn’t a choice for Sara Roberts

Sara Roberts is an Australian visual artist who works primarily in oil paint. Often meditating on specific locations, her work reflects memories of places that she has been, interwoven with more idyllic and imagined elements of the environment. Roberts’ sublime landscapes are nostalgic and evocative, but also whimsical and ethereal in nature. Exploring ideas of personal and cultural identity and one’s sense of belonging within a place, she draws inspiration from her experience of living in between countries and relocating many times in her life. Surprisingly, even though her mother was an artist, she isn’t sure she ever “wanted” to be one. Sara took time out of her busy schedule to tell us more.

In the studioWhat makes you want to create art and what do you like most about it? 

When I am painting time goes by so quickly. For me the need to paint comes from a deep desire to create, it’s who I am. I love coming up with ideas and seeing them turn into something else on the canvas. And I love the challenge that painting gives me. I’m sure that it is something that will keep me busy for the rest of my life.

What inspires you?

I am very much inspired by the landscape in my surrounding. I live in Manly and I love to go for runs and walks in the bush with my husband. Taking the ferry from Manly to the city everyday and looking at the sea and the changing landscape is something that I love. I also work at the Art Gallery of New South Wales 2 days a week. I am constantly inspired by the visitors that come to the Art Gallery and especially how they relate to the art on the walls. Finally, I am very much inspired by other painters. I am constantly wondering into the galleries to have a look at the paintings of Francis Bacon and Brett Whitely. There is also a long list of contemporary artists that I love and that I am very much inspired by.

What is your studio like?

I actually have two studios as I like to have access to painting all the time! I have a studio at home where I like to work on smaller oil paintings, collages and drawings on paper in order to prepare for new paintings. I also have a studio at Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle, where I am currently completing my Masters of Fine Arts. In my studio at SCA I have the chance to make very big paintings, it is such a great space!

If you could collaborate with one artist, any artist, dead or alive, who would that be?

If I were to collaborate with an artist it would probably be with Daniel Richter, his artworks are so incredibly vibrant and crazy. He is just an incredible artist that definitely thinks outside the box. I also feel that I would learn a lot from him.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I actually have very big dreams. I would like to be internationally represented by a few galleries in the next 5 years. In Australia I would love to be represented by Roslyn Oxley who is based in Sydney. I would also like to be represented by a gallery in New York and one in Paris. To travel and exhibit around the world would be a dream come true. I would like to keep on studying and finish a Phd in Painting and to teach university students. And by the time I am 50 I would like to be living somewhere more peaceful where I can have a huge studio to paint in and to keep on travelling internationally for exhibitions.

What superpower would you love to have and why?

I would love to be able to travel through time. It would be amazing to be able to go back into the past to experience how people really were. To be able to go back to the 16th century and to talk to a person about their beliefs about the world at that time would be fascinating. We have so much knowledge about the past but I think it would be different experiencing it. And I would just love to see how the world will be in 100 or 300 years time and if the ideas we have of the future now will actually become true or not.

What’s your background?

I have a mixed background and people always ask me where I am from. My mother is Dutch and my father is Australian. Although, from a young age I grew up travelling with my mother and my Mexican stepfather in different countries. I have lived in Mexico, France, Sweden and Poland. I came back to Australia when I was 19 years old.


Drawings and preparations

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?

Stay true to yourself. And I believe that if you want to achieve anything as an artist you need to have a regular practice and be dedicated to it. Everything will flow from there.

Have you always known you were a creative person?

I have always been a creative person and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making something. I was always experimenting, cooking, mixing things together, drawing, making jewellery and the list goes on. Creating is always something that has come easily to me although it is only recently that I have realised that painting is my true passion and something I want to do all the time.

What made you want to become an artist?

I’m not sure that I wanted to become an artist. My mother is a painter and I saw how difficult it was to make money as an artist from a young age. I thought it would be easier to find a job and it took me a long time to accept the fact that I was an artist and that I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. The turning point for me was when I realised that you have to follow your bliss in life, even if there is little money in return. I have never looked back since I took that decision a few years ago.

You can buy Sara Roberts’ art online at her gallery page here and see her exhibition this week at the Chrissie Cotter Gallery:

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