Sarah Gillespie was born in Winchester in 1963. She studied 16th & 17th century methods and materials at the Atelier Neo-Medici in Paris and then read Fine Art at Pembroke College, Oxford (BFA Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art).
On leaving Oxford, she was awarded the Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation International Award for figurative art and then pursued a successful career as a painter. In recent years Gillespie has had a string of solo exhibitions in London and is frequently selected and hung at the Royal Academy Summer Show. In 2016 she was elected a member of the Royal West of England Academy.
Now specializing in mezzotint engraving, Sarah prints with her husband Paul Kirkup as Dog and Wolf Press. Paul apprenticed with the renowned engraver Sir William Hayter in Paris, and worked for many years alongside Jack Shirreff at 107 Workshop in Wiltshire.
In 2019 she won the prize for ‘adhering to the skills and traditions of the medium’, at the International Mezzotint Festival in Yekaterinburg, Russia and will have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Fine Art at Yekaterinburg in 2021.
Gillespie says of her work:
"The world is full of amazing things and we can choose to remain ignorant, or we can sharpen our senses, give a damn and allow our world to be altered. I try to sit down to draw with the thought, ‘Be quiet and attend to what is here. Let the ten thousand things come to you.’
Drawing then becomes not only a way of speaking about the world; it is also a communicative engagement with the world. It is a way of bringing forth a world that refuses to be reduced to objects but is laden with meaning.
I am attracted to Mezzotint as a method because of its difficulty. I relish what Tacita Dean calls the resistance of the materials and the method. It’s slow, and gradual, and it is those very qualities that are so necessary and important. As a method it presents very few opportunities to impose oneself, to splash gesture and ego.
My recent work has been on moths - the gradual drawing forth of the image from the darkness seeming a perfect matching of method to subject. The method itself holds meaning for me somewhere around its ability to speak both literally and poetically of the moths, (or landscape), being neither present, nor absent but always both. Here and not here. Also, because one is working in mirror and from dark to light and without line, there are, in the long hours of making, many when it is not at all clear whether one – the artist - is indeed ‘drawing forth’ the image from the plate, or whether the moth – subject – is revealing herself. There is much more of a play, a conversation between these two possibilities than in some other mediums and I value that exchange more than I can say."