Fragile With Attitude

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"Fragile with Attitude" was an art exhibition held in the Great Oak Hall at Westonbirt Arboretum from 21st – 25th April 2022. 

The exhibition was developed as part of the "Re-Storying Landscapes for Social Inclusion" project with Sarah Bell from the University of Exeter; a project that aimed to inform landscape decision-making that reflects and respects the diverse ways in which landscapes are sensed, valued and experienced over time.

"Fragile with Attitude" was curated by contemporary artist and creative consultant, Zoe Partington, in collaboration with Westonbirt Arboretum and ArtShape. Alongside five other ArtShape artists who also face disabling barriers, I created works for this exhibition following visits to Westonbirt Arboretum in autumn 2021. 

I have often felt like an imposter, as many of us do, whatever our field. But being a visually-impaired visual artist has felt oxymoronic and something I should hide. However, while working with other artists who face disabling barriers, I didn’t feel like the odd one out, having to explain access needs. This made me feel at ease, and freed me to concentrate on art from the start. Then throughout the project I came to further embrace my identity as a visually-impaired artist, and I believe that this has enabled me to create more authentic work. I am building on this to create art that more closely reflects how I experience the natural world.

Silk Wood

Silk Wood by Sarah Goddard Silk Wood is a mixed-media (acrylic paint and collaged autumn leaves and birch bark) on MDF, which is over a metre wide, and thirty cm high.  This abstract painting is made up of fifteen vertical MDF panels of different widths arranged in a line. These panels alternate between being painted with acrylic pours, and being collages of autumn leaves and birch bark collected from Westonbirt arboretum, against a black background. The acrylic paintings and the leaves are all warm, glowing autumn colours moving from left to right in shades of browns, oranges, reds and golds.  Being comprised of both paint and natural elements in an alternating line, this artwork draws the viewer towards the painting, encouraging them to engage with the differences between the real and the imagined in the shapes and colours created.
Silk WoodSarah Goddard
00:00 / 01:48

Acrylic, leaves and bark collaged on MDF

120cm x 30cm

£250 - BUY NOW

Silk Wood combines acrylic pour paintings with birch bark and fallen leaves collected at Westonbirt in the Autumn of 2021. By alternating collaged leaves with acrylic pours, I am drawing the viewer towards the painting, encouraging them to engage with the differences between the real and the imagined in the shapes and colours created.

These leaves were all collected in the autumn after they had fallen from trees within the arboretum. 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, with their talents, and what makes them each unique often being dismissed.

Acer Glade

Acer Glade by Sarah Goddard Acer glade is a 60cm square mixed media (acrylic paint and collaged maple leaves) painting on MDF. This square artwork is made up of nine smaller square paintings arranged in a 3 by 3 grid. These are painted in swirling blues to represent skies on different days, and each has a red acer leaf in the centre of it. The backgrounds were painted with an abstract acrylic pour - to create the pours, I mixed acrylic paint with pouring medium and water to create very fluid paints. I then layered different shades of fluid acrylic paint in a cup, and poured them onto the surface, before gently moving the paint around to create the fluid pattern of light clouds moving across the sky. These pours are all similar, created using the same light and mid blue tones, but all slightly different to represent skies on a succession of different days under different weather conditions as time passes. Some of them having slightly more wispy grey cloud appearing in them.
Acer GladeSarah Goddard
00:00 / 02:05

Acrylic and leaves collaged on MDF

60cm x 60cm

£250 - BUY NOW

Acer Glade combines blue acrylic pours representing skies with collaged fallen acer leaves collected in Westonbirt in autumn 2021.

To create the pours, I layered different shades of fluid acrylic paint in a cup, and poured them onto the surface, before gently moving them around the surface to create the fluid pattern of light clouds moving across the sky. While the pours on the nine squares that combine to make this artwork are all similar, they are all slightly different, representing skies on a succession of different days under different weather conditions as time passes. The nine acer leaves have been dried and preserved in this collage, capturing them at a moment in time.

This painting is intended to highlight the beauty of these autumn leaves, collected after they had been dropped from the tree, no longer required as it moves in winter dormancy. Similar in shape to outstretched hands, these leaves, just nine of so many that fell from the trees, call out to demand our attention.

Old Arboretum

Old Arboretum.JPGOld Arboretum by Sarah Goddard Old Arboretum is a 60cm square mixed media (acrylic paint and collaged natural objects including bark, conkers, seed pods and pine cones collected from the arboretum in autumn) painting on MDF. It is a square artwork made up of nine smaller square paintings arranged in a 3 by 3 grid. Each of these nine artworks has been painted with an abstract acrylic pour to represent green grass and undergrowth, and has a brown natural element collaged in the centre of it.
Old ArboretumSarah Goddard
00:00 / 02:00

Acrylic and leaves collaged on MDF

60cm x 60cm

£250 - BUY NOW

Acer Glade combines blue acrylic pours representing skies with collaged fallen acer leaves collected in Westonbirt in autumn 2021.

To create the pours, I layered different shades of fluid acrylic paint in a cup, and poured them onto the surface, before gently moving them around the surface to create the fluid pattern of light clouds moving across the sky. While the pours on the nine squares that combine to make this artwork are all similar, they are all slightly different, representing skies on a succession of different days under different weather conditions as time passes. The nine acer leaves have been dried and preserved in this collage, capturing them at a moment in time.

This painting is intended to highlight the beauty of these autumn leaves, collected after they had been dropped from the tree, no longer required as it moves in winter dormancy. Similar in shape to outstretched hands, these leaves, just nine of so many that fell from the trees, call out to demand our attention.

Oriental Plane: stand close; look up

Oriental Plane: stand close; look up By Sarah Goddard This is a large portrait-orientation pen and watercolour painting, mounted in an off-white mount, and framed in a wide distressed wood-effect frame. It is a painting of an oriental plane tree combining a close-up of the tree trunk on the right-hand side of the painting, with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree on the left-hand side of the painting. The painting was based on reference photographs taken in the arboretum on a clear, sunny autumn day.
Oriental Plane; stand close, look upSarah Goddard
00:00 / 01:49

Watercolour and pen on paper

71cm x 61cm in frame

£150 - BUY NOW

This 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. Being partially sighted, I intended this painting to capture something of the way in which I personally engage with nature. It combines expressive, abstract elements in the background of the sky and the canopy, with more detailed sections on the trunk of the tree. This mirrors how I see large vistas out of focus, while enjoying playfully getting up close to look at and touch details.

The close-up of the bark on the tree trunk is intended to encourage the viewer to get close to the tree, to look at and feel the detail of the bark.  The view up towards the sky is intended to encourage the viewer to stand close to the tree trunk and look up through the canopy, listening to the moving leaves and the wildlife.

I have included a plaque on the tree trunk similar to those found throughout Westonbirt Arboretum. The message on this plaque demonstrates my love for trees, and the high value that we ought to place on them and their preservation. 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.

Japanese Maple: stand close; look up

Japanese Maple: stand close; look up By Sarah Goddard This is a large portrait-orientation pen and watercolour painting, mounted in an off-white mount, and framed in a wide distressed wood-effect frame. It is a painting of a Japanese Maple tree combining a close-up of the tree trunk on the right-hand side of the painting, with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree on the left-hand side of the painting. The painting was based on reference photographs taken in the arboretum on a clear, sunny autumn day.
Japanese maple; stand close, look upSarah Goddard
00:00 / 02:20

Watercolour and pen on paper

61cm x 51cm in frame

£125 - BUY NOW

This watercolour painting of an acer combines a close-up of the tree trunk with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree. Being partially sighted, I intended this painting to capture something of the way in which I personally engage with nature. It combines expressive, abstract elements in the background of the sky and the canopy, with more detailed sections on the trunk of the tree. This mirrors how I see large vistas out of focus, while enjoying playfully getting up close to look at and touch details.

The close-up of the bark on the tree trunk is intended to encourage the viewer to get close to the tree, to look at and feel the detail of the bark. There is also moss growing on the bark of this tree, one of the many different textures that can be found among the trees. The view up towards the sky is intended to encourage the viewer to stand close to the tree trunk and look up through the canopy, listening to the moving leaves and the wildlife.

I have included a plaque on the tree trunk similar to those found throughout Westonbirt Arboretum. The message on this plaque demonstrates my love for trees, and the high value that we ought to place on them and their preservation. This plaque reads:

Acer palmatum

Japanese Maple

Stop. Pause. Wait.

Reach up. Spread out your fingers to meet my answering leaves. Let their colours entice, ensnare, ensorcle.

Stop. Pause. Wait.

Pacific Yew: stand close; look up

Pacific Yew: stand close; look up By Sarah Goddard This is a large portrait-orientation pen and watercolour painting, mounted in an off-white mount, and framed in a wide distressed wood-effect frame. It is a painting of an Pacific Yew tree combining a close-up of the tree trunk on the right-hand side of the painting, with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree on the left-hand side of the painting. The painting was based on reference photographs taken in the arboretum on an autumn day.  The two different perspectives combined together in this painting 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.
Pacific Yew; stand close, look upSarah Goddard
00:00 / 02:18

Watercolour and pen on paper

61cm x 51cm in frame

£125 - BUY NOW

This watercolour painting of a yew tree combines a close-up of the tree trunk with a view in a different direction up towards the canopy of the tree. Being partially sighted, I intended this painting to capture something of the way in which I personally engage with nature. It combines expressive, abstract elements in the background of the sky and the canopy, with more detailed sections on the trunk of the tree. This mirrors how I see large vistas out of focus, while enjoying playfully getting up close to look at and touch details.

The close-up of the bark on the tree trunk is intended to encourage the viewer to get close to the tree, to look at and feel the detail of the bark.  The view up towards the sky is intended to encourage the viewer to stand close to the tree trunk and look up through the canopy, listening to the moving leaves and the wildlife.

I have included a plaque on the tree trunk similar to those found throughout Westonbirt Arboretum. The message on this plaque mentions taxol, a powerful cancer drug that was originally derived from yew trees.

Taxus brevifolia

Pacific Yew Tree

I could poison you as soon as look at you! But you… lean in close… I’ll bear your weight… my roots will take your tears.

My taxol could cure you.

…breathe deep… hope…

Keep Off the Paths

Keep off the Paths by Sarah Goddard  Keep Off the Paths is a large landscape-orientation acrylic painting with an abstract green background covered in stencilled writing in red, orange, yellow and blues. The background is painted in loose dabbed brush-strokes of bright greens, with more yellow marks to represent a map of the paths running through Westonbirt Arboretum.
Keep off the PathsSarah Goddard
00:00 / 01:46

Acrylic on stretched canvas

80cm x 60cm

£250 - BUY NOW

Keep Off the Paths features playful stencilled messages against an abstract background representing a map of the paths running through Westonbirt Arboretum. This painting was inspired by a desire to encourage visitors not to treat the arboretum as a formal garden, where they might be expected to keep to the paths, but rather to get close to the trees, to walk among them and gain as much as possible from the experience of being in nature.

 

The stencilled messages on this painting are all prompts to engage mindfully with the arboretum. Inspired by my time exploring Westonbirt, these messages can also be extended to time spent anywhere in nature, and as a encourage to take the time to spend time gaining the benefits that natural spaces can bring to our mental health and well-being.