FEATURED ARTIST Caroline Sayer
I worked for many years in the public relations and event management industry (everything from Budweiser beer and Flymo lawnmowers to working on Royal events involving Princess Diana and the Queen). It was enormous fun and I loved it, but having three children in very quick succession (Katherine, followed 18 months later by twin daughters Bea and Victoria) meant moving out of the middle of London and I reluctantly decided that to carry on working was impossible. Once our (by now) four children had all started school, I decided to retrain as a professional gardener, something I have always done as a hobby.
I qualified under the Royal Horticultural Society (which involved a great deal of theory – I can draw the epidermis of a leaf and describe the structure of a plant cell!) and with a couple of female friends started a small gardening business – which, like a tiny shoot, has grown into something which keeps me pretty busy most of the year. As well as regular maintenance, we particularly like the challenge of overhauling an overgrown garden (more of those around than you’d think), and the creative process involved in devising planting schemes to turn a dull patch of land into something beautiful. Through professional contacts I’ve also helped out on a number of gardens at Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows.
I have always loved art and drawing and painting and even when working took evening classes and a sketch book on holiday. Once my youngest had started school I began life drawing classes again, and have been exhibiting and selling work for about ten years. I’ve always found the human figure and face a source of inspiration – so many different ways to use it – and always a challenge! although I deviate every now and then and paint the occasional landscape or still life. I love experimenting with different mediums and different techniques, from mixing inks, liquid watercolours and acrylics to combining paint, corrugated cardboard and ripped magazine papers!
Mixing techniques and mediums means I never really know how my work is going to turn out – it’s always a little unplanned and unexpected. A lot gets thrown away – but I get a huge amount of pleasure when occasionally one of my works is purchased – the idea that someone wants to put something I created on their wall or on their mantlepiece is an enormous compliment.
A while ago I was asked by a friend to paint a couple of pictures to use as a wedding invitation and wine label – but they had to be humorous! I enjoyed doing them, and people seemed to like them, so used the same idea to paint local scenes around Richmond, which I get printed and now sell through a few local galleries and at local art & craft fairs, etc.
Two years ago I discovered a new passion – sculpture. Using a life model I create narrative pieces, adding animals, wings, hats, guitars and anything else I can think of so they tell a story. I did a couple of ceramic courses (hand building rather than throwing) a few years ago, so understand the basics of working with clay and glazing techniques. On my original course I created a cartoon series of figures (out of my head, not from life) which won a prize in a competition the college organised: the piece was then purchased by the sculptor Raphael Maklouf, which was a big surprise and very flattering (and paid for the year’s course, which particularly pleased my long-suffering husband!).
I joined the Richmond Art Society in 2011 and have been helping organise the exhibitions since 2012.