Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding

Sarah Harding
Winter Oak, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 13 cm x 20.5 cm

I live in a remote, rural area of the Shropshire hills. Our cottage is on the edge of woodland and surrounded by many trees. While oak and ash predominate, there are also mature sweet chestnut and silver birches amongst others. My work is inspired by the natural beauty of my local environment that I encounter on a daily basis, so inevitably trees are often a feature.

I work on a small scale in the traditional, Renaissance technique of egg tempera. I enjoy the slow, meditative approach. The work is produced building many layers of egg yolk and pigments often taken from the earth itself. A unique luminosity can be created in this way, relying on understanding how opaque, transparent and semi-transparent pigments work together and their individual characteristics. It takes time, concentration and application to have mastery over this technique.

A moment of intense feeling is what I try to capture but also, paradoxically, a timeless quality, a human connection and response to the natural world that could have occurred in any century. This feels like an experience outside time and relates to an interest in artists who, through the centuries, have been intrigued and inspired by the notion of the sublime. Trees can also live for several human lifetimes and so bare witness to human activity.

Sarah Harding
Two Ash Trees, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 20 cm x 26 cm

Over the last few years I have become interested in eastern philosophy, particularly Buddhism. For example, the notion that everything in the universe is connected, is something we need to pay urgent attention to if we are not going to destroy it. Trees are a connection between us and the elements. They are the elements as are we.

I'm influenced by the work of The Neo-Romantics, Samuel Palmer and The Ancients along with The Pre-Raphaelites all of whom were also inspired by the English rural environment, along with Persian miniature painting, illuminated manuscripts and the Flemish Norther School.

By trying to reproduce and record a particular emotional, difficult to rationalise, response to nature, I hope to elicit a similar response in the viewer.

Sarah Harding
Oak Trees and Moon, Egg tempera on gesso panel, 20 cm x 25 cm