Sarah Tomasetti’s luminous representations of landscapes are at once ephemeral and eternal and engage with the complexity of our shifting relationship to the natural world, dealing particularly with glacial and mountainous landscapes that are in a state of rapid change.
Sarah shares her inspirations during this time of self isolation and reflects on a recent trip to India. We preview work in the Stock Rooms and learn more about Sarah’s incredible fresco technique.
What are your current inspirations – artists, books, music?
I am looking at Latvian born artist Vija Celmins, how so much feeling can be compressed into a single square of pencil drawing tracing the surface of the sea…. Celmins is a great artist for the lock down – her vision is so singular and quiet it speaks to the experience of solitude.
I’m reading Elena Ferrante’s Incidental Observations which has beautiful whimsical illustrations by the self taught Andrea Ucini.
I’m listening to podcasts – I love anthropologist Tim Ingold on the life of lines and the nature of being with an-other. There is always Big Ideas on RN and Talking with Painters.
To relax I’m making an index of colour swatches with various transparent glazes layered over the top. I leave behind a trace so I can re-find my favourite combinations. Colour memory is an emotional thing – no matter how many times I do versions of this, it always brings me newly into the present.
You often travel to locations that inspire your work, tell us about your recent trip to India
In late 2019 I had a wonderful opportunity to travel to the village of Bemni in the north of Uttarakhand in India with anthropologist Dr Jane Dyson. Originally the start of the Lord Curzon Trail, the slate steps of which can still be seen snaking up into the mountains, Bemni lies in a beautiful valley at the foot of the Himalayas, spread out across three seasonal village sites. It was fascinating to learn about how the unique topography of this location is woven into the local customs and beliefs, how the ceaseless labour of a subsistence life is circumscribed by rituals addressing the deities of the mountains, and how local people have adapted to change. I was able to make drawings with children in the local school and in our host family, and attend various ceremonies, including a pilgrimage to a temple in the mountains. On return to the studio I have begun a series of work about this magical part of the world, where people have lived sustainably for over 200 years.
In the Stock Rooms
We have large, etherial paintings from the early 2000s new to our Stock Rooms, including Waterfall Milford Series, 2001, oil on fresco plaster, 204 x 143 cm (pictured below). Click here to browse Sarah’s available works. Work inspired by Sarah’s recent trip to India will soon be available.
The Art of Fresco
Sarah Tomasetti trained in Italy under Leonetto Tintori, and went on to develop new permutations of the ancient art of fresco painting that lend her paintings and drawings a delicacy and illusion of fragility that is at once aesthetically seductive and thematically poignant.
Using traditional fresco methods employed since antiquity Tomasetti’s work echoes the transient depths of nature, building up successive layers of transparent staining and encaustic wax. The fresco surface integral in Sarah’s work, the intricate network of cracking achieved with this technique signifies the cycles of continual disintegration and reformation in nature.
Click the below link to learn more about the impressive fresco technique.
Presenter: Ed Ayres | Producer: Fiona Gruber | Executive Producer: Rhiannon Brown