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Sarah Goddard: creating artworks drawing from lived experience of sight impairment
and Long Covid

Sarah Goddard park.jpg

The colours, shapes, textures and patterns of the natural world can calm or enliven us, and I draw inspiration from them when creating my mixed-media abstract artworks. 

We all see the world around us differently and our experiences impact on how we perceive our surroundings. Being sight-impaired, I bring different perceptions and representations of the world to my art. I aim to embody the emotional experiences prompted by nature, and snapshots of the way I see the world.

When spending time in green spaces, I enjoy the sounds and feels of nature as much as the sights. I am far more likely to hear birds singing that to be able to see them, and I enjoy feeling the textures of leaves, tree bark and other natural elements.; the landscape will be a blur, but a bright spot of colour will capture my attention, drawing me in closer to explore the details.

During my time as an artist-in-residence at The Wilson, Cheltenham's art gallery and museum, I created a series of landscape artworks inspired by local open spaces, and my walks to these places. Unable to drive due to my sight impairment, local open spaces are important to me, as they were to all of us during Covid lockdowns, when our excursions were limited and we were restricted to local exercise on foot.

The larger landscapes that I created are designed to be hung on hinges so that they can be opened from the wall to reveal text on the reverse of the painting, describing my walk to the location as well as information about the space. My inclusion of park benches within these pieces nods to my experience of living with Long Covid since March 2020, and the importance of creating accessible and inclusive spaces for everyone to enjoy.

I created audio recordings to be listened to alongside these landscapes. These audio recordings are based on field recordings from the sites that inspired the landscapes and my walks to them. These audios bring another element of the experience of spending time in these local spaces to the artworks.

Park Bench

Park Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a park. In the foreground is an area of grass painted in shades of vivid green. At the bottom left of the painting is a loosely painted back of a teal park bench. Beyond the grass is a dark green lake with loose reflections of trees and bushes painted in oose lines across it. Two mallards - a duck on the left and a drake on the right – are painted on the lake, moving diagonally towards one another and the viewer. The lower half of a silver birch tree is depicted growing on the near side of the lake. Its bark is painted in shades of off-white and grey-brown, with its dappled leaves in shades of light olive green and yellow against a blue sky. Beyond the lake are more dappled trees and bushes.
My walk to the Park Campus.jpeg

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

Park Campus field recordingSarah Goddard
00:00 / 04:00

Pittville Park Benches

Pittville Park Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a park. In the foreground there is a grey path appearing close to the left at the bottom of the painting and undulating across to the right-hand side, with grass painted in shades of vivid green below this path on the bottom right section of the painting. This path marks the near edge of a lake, and there are three black park benches painted next to this path on the grass. The largest of these benches is in the bottom centre of the painting, with two smaller benches to the right. The lake is painted in dark green, with reflections of light blue sky, and green and yellow tree leaves painted in loose horizontal lines across it, showing ripples on the water. Two swans are depicted on the right-hand edge of the lake. On the far side of the lake are abstracted trees in shades of green, autumnal yellow and red. At the top of the painting, oak tree branches are hanging down with leaves painted in shades of green, y

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

Pittville Park field recordingSarah Goddard
00:00 / 03:18

Leckhampton Hill Bench

Leckhampton Hill BenLeckhampton Hill Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of the view from the top of Leckhampton Hill out across fields and houses. In the foreground there is a red earth path with a simple wooden bench on it. Rough patches of grass are growing at the base of the bench, and breaking through the path. On the far side of the path is a narrow stretch of grass, slanting up towards the right-hand edge of the painting. There are dappled trees in various shades of green and reddish brown beyond this. In the distance are fields, cross-crossed with trees and hedgerows; areas of houses; and wooded patches. The horizon is painted in blue-grey to depict hills, topped with a gently clouded sky.ch.JPG
Leckhampton Hill field recordingSarah Goddard
00:00 / 03:13

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

botanical bas reliefs.jpg

Botanical bas reliefs

When I spend time I will often stroke wispy long grasses, gently touch soft petals and rough bark, or feel the shapes and textures of leaves. For me, the shapes and textures of natural elements are as interesting as their colours. 

This inspired me to create simple, monochromatic casts of natural objects, including flowers, tree cones and leaves. These pieces are designed to be touched, conveying the shapes and outlines of the original elements, while capturing their fleeting shapes and tactile natures as a moment in time. 

Cotswold Lion

I also incorporated natural found elements within pieces that combine knitting with these elements. Knitting is a craft that was passed down to me from my grandmother forty years ago. The knitting is these works uses local wool from rare-breed Cotswold sheep. The Gloucestershire landscape that inspires me has been shaped over millennia by human activities, including the Romans bringing the “Cotswold Lion” sheep to farm locally for their wool. Natural and human elements run side-by-side in the environment, and I illustrate this by weaving them together in these pieces.

Fragile with Attitude

The Fragile with Attitude exhibition was held at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, in April 2022. The exhinition formed a part of the larger Restorying Landscapes for Social Inclusion project from Sensing Nature and the University of Exeter. The Fragile with Attitude exhibition comprised art created in response to the landscape at Westonbirt arboretum by artists who face disabling barriers.

Working with other artists who face disabling barriers was a pivotal time in my artistic journey. I didn't feel the need to justify my access needs and the challenges that come with living with a chronic health condition, but felt very comfortable working with this group of artists working in diverse media, from visual art to spoken word. This experience enabled me to begin the process towards creating more authentic work, embracing my identity as a sight-impaired artist, rather than fighting against it. 

Oriental Plane: Stand Close; Look Up

Silk Wood

Silk Wood.JPG

This large watercolour painting of an oriental plane tree combines a close-up of the tree trunk with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree on a sunny autumn day.

The two different perspectives combined together show views that you might experience if you were to get up close to the tree trunk, and then look up through the canopy towards the sky.

On the tree trunk is a dark grey plaque with white text similar to those found throughout Westonbirt Arboretum. The message on this plaque reads:

Platanus Orientalis

Oriental Plane

I stand on your street wearing bark like your warriors’ garb. My bark will soak up your pollution and, cleansing your city air, drop it in flakes on your crowded streets, to be swept away with your litter. Breathe deep.

Silk Wood is a one-metre wide artwork incorporating elements collected at Westonbirt arboretum in the autumn of 2021 alongside fluid acrylic painted elements.

 

As leaves lose the green chlorophyll pigment that allows them to create energy, the other pigments within the leaves become apparent, bringing to light the wonderful colours of autumn. These leaves have been dropped from the tree, no longer useful to it to provide it with energy. However, they show exquisite colours and beauty in their fragility. This links to the idea of disabled people being marginalised and disenfranchised within society.

Breathe collection

Breathe is an ongoing collection of artworks that I have created in response to my experience of living with Long Covid.

 

These paintings are inspired by the simple word "breathe" and what it has meant to me since March 2020. During my acute Covid infection, I struggled to breathe. As I began to recover, but continued to live with the symptoms of Long Covid, I had to relearn how to breathe, while impacted by the trauma of struggling so hard for breath during the fear of the early days of the pandemic. At the same time, mindfully paying attention to breath has been important, linking mind and body. 

These abstract paintings all include visual elements where dots and dashes or long and short lines are used to make out the Morse code for the word "breathe". 

Leckhampton Hill Walk

Walking up to Leckhampton Hill is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting. This was painted from a stopping point at the top of a field part way on the walk up to the top of Leckhampton Hill. The foreground shows a fallen tree lying across the grass, painted in dots of grey and brown, with green moss growing on it. Beyond this is green grass, with dotted trees in the distance and the houses of Cheltenham in the distance under a lightly clouded blue sky.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£50

Leckhampton Hill View

Leckhampton Hill View is a landscape-orientation pointillism style painting of a view across distant fields from the top of Leckhampton hill. There is a grassy foreground, with a park bench to the right, with bare tree branches stretching above it. A path runs across this grass, with gorse bushes on the far side of it. In the distance are hills and fields dotted with trees. The sky has light clouds.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

12” x 10”

£130

Leckhampton Hill Devil's Chimney

Leckhampton Hill Devil’s Chimney is a small landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting. Devil’s Chimney, a limestone formation stands to the right of the painting. Beyond this are green fields dotted with trees and patches of houses. The distant hills are painted in indigo under a pale blue sky.

Acrylic on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

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