During the pandemic I was able to slow down and rediscover my innate love of nature. I used the time to complete a Diploma in Animal Communication and re-dedicate time to the great outdoors. Through this journey I’ve been able to connect on a deeper level with the flora and fauna around us, and have had some wonderful encounters and experienced synchronicities.
The pandemic has seen a great increase in people spending time in nature, but with this also came destruction. Through my work I hope to help bring people and nature closer together with a greater understanding and respect, to help open people up to the healing power of nature if we only slow down and notice.
My hope is that through my work I can help others see for themselves just what is possible, and as a result feel a wonderful, healing connection with everything around them.
From the tiny insects to the mighty elephants, from weeds, to Blue Whales, Humanity has placed fellow inhabitants of this planet in their own order of perceived importance, and I believe through art we can challenge these perceptions. I often donate pieces to raise funds for wildlife charities – usually small, local charities who are very much the unsung heroes in the fight to look after our natural world.
Hand-building sculptures from clay allows me to connect deeply with my work.
I make my pieces smooth and tactile to encourage touch – strengthening the connection with the subject matter.
I am passionate about helping wildlife and often provide support through my work to local wildlife charities who are the unsung heroes helping nature at grass roots level. Through my work I hope to bring a greater understanding and respect for the natural world around each and every one of us, if only we slow down and take notice.
After studying Industrial Design Innovation, Sheffield-based Sarah Brabbin started her own award-winning business in commercial design, print and photography.
The pandemic allowed her time to rekindle a lifelong love of nature and art. Deciding she would like to persue a career in art, she embarked on a journey to discover her passion.
After a short course with Brendon Hesmondhalgh, she fell in love with hand-building clay sculptural forms inspired by British wildlife.
She also delved into the spiritual side of nature became a qualified animal communicator. It is important that Sarah’s work has soul and is authentic to her.
1999-2002 – Industrial Design Innovation (BA Hons) Sheffield Hallam University
2002 – Genesis Creative Business Start-up Programme, 2002 – Present – Glo Design (freelance graphic design & commercial photography)
2002/2003 – DTI Smart Award – rotationally moulded modular wheelchair design
2004 – Solidworks International Design Competition winner
2006 – Product design consultant – Paraytec – UK based scientific instrument company (design, development, production of the world’s first miniature multiplexed capillary UV detector. R&D 100 Award
2014-2015 – Royal Photographic Society’s touring International Print Exhibition
2014 – 1-1 mentoring – Keith Moss Photographer
2014 – Diploma in Professional Photography – The Photography Institute
2014 – Fashion shoot in Barcelona for Kate Fearnley Bridal Designs
2014 – UKTI supported project to research visually our relationship with windmills through photography including a trip to the Netherlands – booklet produced
2015 – 4 Day Training – Aspire Photography in Northern Italy
2017 – 2 Day Equine Sculpture and Anatomy For Artists Course – “Horses Inside Out”
2019 – 2 Photos shortlisted for the British Photography Awards
2019 – Psychic Awareness Training – Holistic Wellbeing
2020 – Photo exhibited in the International Garden Photographer Of The Year “Beautiful Barnsley” Exhibition
2020 – Animal Communication Diploma
2020 – Mediumship Development – Holistic Wellbeing
2020 – Reiki First and Second Degree – Holistic Wellbeing
2021 – 2022 – United Artspace Hub for artist development to help guide me on the journey to rediscovering my art, developing my skills, creating networks, making my art my living
2021 – Make Your Mark – online artistic course with Sharon Griffin
2021 – Ceramics training at Animal Artistry
2021 – Ceramics training at The Sculpture Lounge with Brendon Hesmondhalgh and Rebecca Appleby
2021 – Ceramics training at Northlight Art Studio
2022 – Mould making training with Ed Bentley
2022 – The British Art Prize 2022 Top 50
How a piece comes into being.
My time in nature, chance encounters and connections spark my inspiration for each animal sculpture.
It’s not simply a case of observing and record taking, it’s a feeling and emotion on a much deeper level. It’s my intention to channel those feelings and emotions into each piece.
This is why no two sculptures will ever be the same – they are as individual as the animal and the encounter we shared, meaning every sculpture is a one-off, never to be repeated piece of fine art.
I often take my camera with me on walks and so I usually have some reference photos to help me bring the piece to life, so I’ll set up the sculpture stand and photos and start to shape and form the clay using a variety of hand-building techniques.
Once I’m happy with the rough shape, I allow it a little time to rest before going in and refining the lines and adding the details. Although I’m very keen not to include superfluous intricacies because I don’t want to detract from the main character.
Up until this point I will have used only my hands, but then I carefully pierce hundreds of holes to release any trapped air, before smoothing the surface further with my favourite artists brush, which gives the distinctive surface marks you can see and feel.
Watching clay dry
It’s crucial to allow the piece to dry fully before firing, because any trapped moisture will expand and cause the clay to rupture as the kiln heats up. When the sun is shining and there’s a gentle breeze it’s perfect drying conditions, but in winter, pieces take much longer sitting around drying. You have to be patient when your chosen media is mud and water.
Firing up the kiln
Once I’m as certain as I can be that the piece is ready for fire, I will place it carefully in the kiln. I set the temperature to rise slowly, hold steady at 82°C for a couple of hours to help remove any last bits of moisture I may have missed, before setting it to continue to slowly increase to 980°C. This is the first firing, known as a “bisque,” firing. It leaves the clay just porous enough to accept any glaze but also gives is some strength whilst I continue to work on it.
Glazing & Final Firing
Once the piece has cooled, I brush on 3 coats of glaze. If the piece is to be coloured using underglazes, oxides and glazes, then 3 coats of underglaze followed by 3 coats of clear glaze are what’s required.
Allowing the glaze to fully dry, the base of the piece is wiped clear of any glaze so as to prevent it sticking to the kiln shelf. It’s not an exact science, and the added element of alchemy makes glazing an exciting process.
Bringing the piece upto 1240°C allows the glaze to melt and the clay to become fully fired. All that’s left to do is wait for it to cool and pray the kiln gods have been kind!