Sarah Burwash is a young Canadian artist working in watercolor and ceramics.
Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
I grew up in Rossland, British Columbia, a small mountain town in southern interior BC, a place I hold dear. I now live on the opposite coast, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. I lived in Halifax for two years before to Lunenburg this spring, a small town outside if the city.
You were traveling a lot this past year and attended artist residencies in Ontario and Colorado. Did you gain new perspective from these experiences?
I truly did. I had a very busy year leading up to my travels, with lots of changes and challenges. The hum of all the activity in my life made it hard for me to hear my inner voice, I was neglecting the part me that roots me and enables me to take on many things and access my creativity. My time away attending residencies allowed me to slow down and ground myself and gain perceptive on my goals, priorities. It gave me time to research and more fully develop ideas, to experiment and expand my practice. I have found I thrive in rural environments, where I can easily access either the woods or the ocean, where the stars are bright and the air fresh, so I sought out residencies that would fill that need. My travel was balanced with time in cities such as Montreal and New York. On top of all that, I met a bounty of incredible people to share experiences and resources and ideas with. I feel so fortunate for that.
What are some of your inspirations for this new body of work?
This body of work is quite different from my usual practice which is narrative and figurative. I have become interested in symbols, spirit animals and how the natural world mirrors humans emotional worlds which is what this work seeks to explore. I was thinking about life and death, the light and dark and the interdependency of these two complimenting forces.
Unlike your older work, these pieces are really pattern-driven and decorative. What's behind the shift?
This shift came unexpectedly. I began these works more as an exercise to warm up my drawing hand and creative juices. I arrived in Colorado to begin my residency there and felt unsure were to begin so I decided to begin with something repetitive so that I could begin drawing without too much pressure and transcend into my imagination. I didn't expect this project to go anywhere beyond an exercise for myself but I enjoyed the process so much that I continued making the drawings and all of a sudden a large series had formed and people were really responding to them.
(A glimpse of Sarah's older work. "Gwen Lazier Braidwood")
The circular pieces are really striking. Is there meaning behind the shape?
I liked the idea of containing repeated objects and was thinking of life cycles which lends itself well to the circle. I also began building a Yurt last fall which is a circular structure and is based around the philosophy of circular living so circles have been in my subconscious from that experience.
What are your hopes and plans for the upcoming year?
I will be heading to Dawson City for two months this September to attend a residency at the Klondike Institute for Art and Culture which I am very excited for. I plan to hike the Chilkoot Trail leading up to the residency which is a 3-4 day hike through the Yukon and BC which thousands of people hiked on their way to the Klondike goldfields in 1897. I also will be having an art book published by Conundrum Press in 2013 so I'm working on the contents for that. I will exhibiting at the Khyber Arts Society in Halifax and at the Ross Creek Art Centre in Canning, NS in 2013 with work from my residencies and I hope to find more exhibition opportunities for the work. I have been experimenting in ceramics a lot lately and hope to take that practice into more exciting places, go bigger and more sculptural. I will also be helping curate a group ceramics show at the Ross Creek Art Centre which will a lot of fun. I am always scheming so we'll see what else presents itself! I made my first animation this past fall and would like to keep exploring that medium as well.