Buxton Museum art exhibition paints prehistoric Derbyshire in a new light
In ‘Tipping Points: Explorations in Liminal Landscapes’, Scottish artist Sarah Keast combines mixed media print, paint and collage into works of art that integrate landscape, geology, archeology and the natural world.
All of the pieces were created especially for the exhibition, with Sarah working intermittently for four years on a study of wild places in Derbyshire and the artefacts held in the museum’s collection.
Sarah, 53, said: ‘I had never been to Derbyshire before, most of my life has been further north, but it was an absolute joy to find out.
“The exhibition was supposed to take place in 2020, then it was pushed back because of Covid. It was the biggest challenge I faced, but it gave me time to dig deeper. I found myself producing so many new pieces. It was a very wealthy workplace.
Sarah’s creative practice stems from her early career as a geologist. When family life took over, she retrained at a local college in Dumfries and Galloway, then went on to study at the Glasgow School of Art and the Slade School in London.
She said: “There are still a lot of links with natural history and archeology but I don’t just make reproductions of what I see on the landscape. I work with how it makes me feel, a sense of history and also what’s going on in the world at the time.
“For this exhibition, I worked a lot on the stone circles of Arbor Low and Barbrook, thinking of hens and prehistoric ceremonial landscapes. Derbyshire is covered in sites created by people as rituals for the stages of life. How do we do now? Where is our love for the land and what do we do to mark it?
“I spent a day at the museum sketching some of the collection which is full of Blue John and other stones. Then I spent some time driving around the county to get an eye on the scenery. I loved riding the edges like Stanage and Froggatt. The stones you find up there are like sculptures.
In keeping with the period scale of peaks and valleys, the gallery space also allowed Sarah to expand her vision.
She said: “The museum has high walls and large spaces and it was new and exciting to work on such a large scale. It’s really liberating. They did a fantastic job hanging the exhibit.
“When I first walked around, it struck me that it was such a colorful phase. Everything is bright, exuberant and joyful. It’s such a beautiful thing to be out of the period. of pandemic.
She added: “The gallery says people have spent a lot of time looking at it, quite a few pieces have been sold and two will go into the permanent collection.
“I hope people will see different layers in it, that it will take them on a journey, stimulate their imagination and make them see the archeology cases in a different light.”
Tipping Points is active until Sunday, July 17: Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3zQLkvD.