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Greenhouse Final A4 copy

Sarah Abbott Water Sounds

Blurring the line between artist and designer, Sarah Abbott’s explorations of the natural world and beyond marry crisp, clean forms with a keen eye for detail.

Based in Sheffield, Sarah Abbott’s artwork features a bountiful cornucopia of flora and fauna, and this summer her Bear of Sheffield will finally take its place on the long-awaited sculpture trail to raise money for The Children’s Hospital Charity. I got in touch with Sarah to talk creations, collaborations and future plans.

Your artwork reveals a love for the natural world. Tell us a bit about your artistic process and where you draw inspiration from.

When I was studying in Manchester, I would make drawings of plants I’d found in parks or areas of green in the city and I still find myself doing that now.

I’m constantly inspired by plants, their forms, their symbolism. I don’t currently have a garden so I’m surrounded by house plants, which helps.

I mostly just work on things that interest me and hope they interest other people too. I like to simplify things visually, perhaps as a way to bring some order to a chaotic world. It can be quite meditative.

As much as I try to be, I’m not much of a sketcher so most of my work tends to begin directly on the computer, which means I can try different things out quickly and edit as I go. I studied printmaking, which can be quite messy and can easily go wrong, so I think I was drawn to the control of working on a computer.

Anemone Final copy
Finches Final copy
Dandelions final lowres copy

Your striking and minimalistic style clearly has a broad appeal in the spheres of both art and design. Do you consider yourself to be primarily an artist or a designer, and is there a line of distinction between the two?

I actually studied Fine Art and have only recently seen the correlation between the work I’m making now and the work I was making then. There was often a nod to cataloguing and collecting that seems to have carried over.

These days I definitely feel more like a designer but that line is very blurry.

Leaftypes final copy
Plant Stand copy
Leaves A3 Final copy

It's been a challenging 14 months for many people in many ways. Has the pandemic affected your practice, and if so, how?

Honestly, it’s been quite difficult, especially this second half. Without the direction of commissions, it’s forced me to work solely on my own projects for the first time in a long time. So I’ve been focusing on my shop. I revamped my website. I’ve been trying out drawing on an iPad and I’ve done some painting. I’m still thinking about which direction I’d like to go in.

Mushrooms Final2 copy
Edible Flowers Final copy
Wildflowers Final copy

You've previously worked on collaborative projects such as your jigsaw puzzles with Seltzer Goods. How do you decide on who you would like to work with?

I’m open to any and all projects if I have the time. Just the fact that someone has enjoyed my work and approached me to make more is what enables me to keep doing what I’m doing.I’d been saying to myself that I wanted to make a jigsaw and an email landed asking me to make one so of course, I jumped on that. They’re a woman-led company and very nice people, which always helps. The projects I’m most drawn to are those with clear briefs and budgets so I’m not kept guessing.

Birds and Berries Puzzle Media 01
Birds and Berries Puzzle Media 03
Veggie Recipe Puzzle Media 01

We hear that you are involved in the Bears of Sheffield project, with your bear set to be revealed later this year. What else is on the horizon for you?

I have a few projects that are up in the air, such is the nature of the pandemic I think. I’m currently looking at a rerun of my Botanical Gardens print with APG Works and thinking about when to start selling at fairs again.

by Felicity Jackson (she/her)
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