There is Hockney…there is Hirst..and then, there is Humphrey. And whilst the last surname may not, as of yet, be a household name, we reckon this distinction is not far off.
The Humphrey cited is Ms. Sarah Jane Humphrey, an acclaimed illustrator and painter of land and seascapes. The remarkably gifted Ms. Humphrey developed an ardent affinity for all things nature whilst growing up in Cambridgeshire. Propelled by her fascination with details and realism in art, Ms. Humphrey, whilst studying Scientific and Natural History Illustration at university in Lancashire, was offered a place in the BA Honours Illustration programme at the Falmouth School of Arts in Cornwall. Seeing this as a prime opportunity to live out her dream of living by the sea, Ms. Humphrey accepted the offer and has remained in Cornwall ever since.
After becoming acquainted with her, via Twitter, we cordially invited Sarah into Anglophile Studios for a signature afternoon tea and a chat. She not only eagerly accepted the offer, she was especially kind to bring along two of her illustrations which can be seen at the bottom of the transcript.
1. Most of your illustrations capture the very raw/organic beauty of nature. What it is about natural land/seascapes that particularly grab hold of your imagination?
In relation to the seascapes, it’s the ever changing light over the water, the cloud formations. The tranquility of still and calm, lucid waters to the sheer raging power the sea owns, all of which draws one into her space. Absolutely inspiring.
2. When you’re in the midst of creating a piece, what sort of emotional sensation does the process elicit?
When I am creating an artwork it is very much a time of reflection. My thoughts wander…. thus taking me through many emotions. It is more apparent if you look closely at my oil paintings and sketches which are created with so much more freedom, speed and emotion, rather than the hyper-real artworks.These although still going through the same emotive process are a disciplined way of working with a different mindset.
3. You’ve spoken about how, after you relocated to Cornwall, you fell in love with the region and decided to stay. In what ways did Cornwall capture your heart?
Cornwall for me is and has always been full of mystery. I love the way the narrow roads with high wild hedgerows snake around the coastline. On an unfamiliar road or coast-path you never quite know where they are going to lead. Very often it’s something pretty spectacular.The North coast has rugged cliffs against a dramatic open expanse of sea and sky, and here where I live on the South coast, soft hues of turquoise blues and greens of the sea, pine trees, secret coves. All staggeringly beautiful.
4. If you could have afternoon tea with any famous artist, who would it be and why?
Afternoon tea….Mmm I would love to delve into the mind of Da Vinci, although perhaps he would be more of a dinner party!.
5. Has art always been your primary passion?
Yes always, I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil and have never veered from the track, in fact the more I draw the more I want to create!
6. How much time do you devote, each day, to your work?
It would be hard to put a figure of work time into how much dominates a day. Although from when I wake in the morning to falling asleep at night I am working. My mind is constantly whirring with thoughts and creativity so although I may not necessarily be at the drawing board or with my sketchbook all day, the artistic process is still evolving. I guess this is the luxury of a career that is also my passion.
7. You’re on Desert Island Discs and you’ve been asked to choose a book to take with you before you’re exiled. What book would you select and why? And what would your luxury be?
I would take Gerald Durrel’s ‘My Family and Other Animals’ a read to keep you grounded with the simplicity of nature and happiness. Luxury, Cashmere.
8. Who are your top five favourite British musical acts?
London Grammar, Foals, Ben Howard, Daughter, Arctic Monkeys
9. What makes you proudest to be British?
For a small Island I think we show tremendous strength.
10. What is your favourite holiday destination in the UK?
I haven’t explored yet, but I would love to escape to the Western Isles of Scotland for a holiday.
11. Do you have a dream project that you hope to make a reality?
Yes, of course! I would love the time to immerse myself in a large hyper-real artwork.
12. What is your opinion of street art and, in particular, the work of Banksy?
Street art has a place and a space. In the right location, when showing genuine skill and perhaps thought provoking content, it is impressive. Banksy for one has created this with a fascinating anonymity with his controversial artworks. What I don’t like is mindless graffiti or poor skill and copies of well known street artists, it would be nice to see more respect, and originality.