A Sarah Delaney painting is a portal into a conversation. You can read the questions, responses, reactions and tangents emerging as the piece develops. Although the medium is not a literal dialogue, the colour, gesture, pattern, and movement within the canvas reflect one expressive moment leading to the next. In Naramata, for example, early areas of wash, each only slightly overlapping, spur more specific strokes and lines in response. These are partially covered themselves by further patches or washes of colour, and then more thickly applied forms, interacting but not burying, the earlier compositional elements.
Delaney’s spontaneity of form suggests gestural abstraction, or action painting, while her expression is meditative and contained in scale. Her choice, placement and form of colour gestures offer a visual equivalent to a spoken exchange, where the development of ideas in succession says something beyond any single phrase or sentence. While colourists such as Rothko showed us the worlds within a single colour, Delaney arranges colour statements beside and atop of each other. She does not clutter them, but encourages their space and interplay, shifting stroke and shape in whimsical but sensitive responses. Two-dimensional visual art is typically non-temporal, reflecting a still instant. There is only a single frame, with no passage of time needed to perceive it. There is a distinction here from other art forms that do play out through time. Film, for example, involves a succession of frames. As is true for words in speaking or writing. Delaney’s paintings defy this distinction, as there is a clear succession, through time, of interactions.
The sense of events unfolding is central to Delaney’s broader intentions. While the variety of small marks and reactions that characterize her work are unforced and organic, they combine to tell a story. There is such intention and care, however spontaneously applied, that we recognize a statement without necessarily speaking the language. Each painting seems to say something specific. There is familiarity, yet each feels unique to one’s own viewing, and reminiscent only of itself. The work seems both knowable and ambiguous. Materially real yet mystic.
Delaney selects and creates colours, symbols, and simplified forms referencing the landscape of her home, British Columbia. She has a deep relationship with her surroundings, and her work embraces the stimulating locality within a wider breadth characterized by this large and varied province. There are no obvious tropes that would mark Delaney’s paintings as decidedly British Columbian, however across her body of work there is a palette that quietly impresses itself as northern and coastal. She notes elements of synaesthesia in her own perception and experience, associating letters or numbers with particular colours, and colours or smells as transportative to place or memory. And there is certainly something reminiscent and associative in the visual fragments Delaney collects. They are local. But she is careful to avoid any obvious or explicit reference to the geography, topography, flora and fauna that inspire her.
The dexterity of motion, speed and equipment in Delaney’s vocabulary within gesture alone affords her an accuracy and specificity in her commentary on patterns that occur in nature, without the need to represent them literally. She has taken in, for example, the character of lines in migration patterns of birds in flight, or animals on land. Painting lines reflecting her meditative observations flow naturally rather than self consciously. And because she frees herself and us from literal context, her patterning resonates with a range of scales just as natural patterns do. The views can be similar through a microscope and a satellite image. Delaney herself travels from close examination of her immediate outside surroundings to the arial-view photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand and David Burdeny.
Delaney offers something contained and humble, yet generously resonant, in each of her pieces, suggesting qualities in the artist herself. We encounter a person and a practice deft at balance, alive between roots and flight, smallness and expanse, stillness and dancing.
Originally from a small town in North Western Ontario, Sarah moved the the coast to pursue art in 2004. She currently lives in Vancouver where she works as an artist.
GROUP AND SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2017 Sarah Delaney x RVCA, Vancouver BC (solo)
2017 History of Here, The Aviary, Vancouver BC (solo)
2017 The Causal Effect, Back Gallery Project, Vancouver BC (solo)
2017 Vancouver Mural Festival: Year Two, Burrard Arts Foundation, Vancouver BC
2017 Lyrical Abstractions, Trounce Alley Gallery, Victoria, BC
2017 It Is What It Is, El Kartel, Vancouver BC
2017 Lookouts, KA Gallery, Kit and Ace, Vancouver BC (solo)
2016 Pantone Presents, GAM Gallery, Vancouver BC
2016 Process and Recent Work, The Aviary, Vancouver BC (solo)
2016 Recording In and On It, GAM Gallery, Vancouver BC (solo)
2016 Garden Party, Quiet.ly Building, Vancouver BC
2016 The Untitled Show: Vol II, Untitled Art Space, Vancouver BC
2015 The Bazaar Pop Up, This Open Space, Vancouver BC
2010 The Fair Grounds, GAM Gallery, Vancouver BC (solo)
2009 Winter Salon, Photohaus Gallery, Vancouver BC
2009 Sorting the Sundry, Sunset Gallery, Kenora ON (solo)
2009 RPM: The Lost Art of LP Covers, Delgue Contemporary Art, Victoria BC
2009 Declaring Space: 2009 BFA Grad Show, UVic, Victoria BC
2009 ARTifacts: Art Exhibition, Lake of the Woods Museum, Kenora ON
2009 Mixed Bag, UVic, Victoria BC
2013 Vancouver College of Art and Design, Diploma of Interior Design
2009 University of Victoria, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Visual Arts
2009 Honours, with Distinction
2009 Diane Mary Hallam Achievement Award
2009 University of Victoria Bursary Award
"Two Stories" Pecha Kucha New Westminster. February 2017.
"Love Your Business" Vancouver Business Babes (Panelist). February 2018
"Sarah Delaney", Creators Vancouver. 2017 September
"Boss Babes: Sarah Delaney" Twenty Something Living. 2017 July
"An Interview with Sarah Delaney", The Aviary Journal. 2016 October
"Seventeen Minutes with Mount Pleasant Polymath/Creator Sarah Delaney", Scout Magazine. 2016, July
Sarah Delaney x RVCA
Exhibit hosted by RVCA, held at THE PLAYGROUND
434 Columbia Street, Vancouver, BC
April 26, 2018
Over the past couple of years I have been making art and consequently writing about it. Focus on the what and the how mostly. My work is my version and response to what I’ve explored and experienced. My work generally begin with a geographical location that springboards a series of feelings and patterns. A pile of actions, noises, and movements transcribed into heavy and soft lines and light and heavy washes, layered together on a canvas. Most vaguely described as painting landscapes, I use overlapping colours, patterns, and textures to tell the story of PLACE.
Last month I was in LA and visited the art shop at MOCA. While browsing the books, somewhere between a book on Njideka Akunyili Crosbyan and Elizabeth Peyton, an overwhelmed manic version of myself broke down in tears. A wave of passion, grounded in appreciation, was washed over me. It is powerful to observe the history of art, but for me it is especially surreal to be surrounded by the contemporary art that is being produced right now — to reflect on where we are today, what themes are being explored, what styles are being developing, and maybe even imagine where I might fit in.
That afternoon I noticed some of the street banners were advertising the Jasper Johns exhibit happening at The Broad. Beside the cropped image read ‘Something Resembling Truth’. I haven’t been able to shake those words since. I like to think that much of what I am striving to create is also something that resembles truth. In the highly subjective, abstract world, Jasper Johns and I are creating the same thing and the idea shakes me to the core.
Days later, back in my Vancouver studio, my mind kept coming back to the Jasper Johns poster. Those words have been a constant reminder to be honest with myself. To try my best to create work that is pure, to reflect the human experience, to question what is my truth? These intensions came in the midst of a high stress, anxiety-packed week. And with an open mind, this is when I came to learn something new about myself and that is this: I am fuelled by two things : 1. the love for the process. 2. The guilt-ridden voice inside me saying if I stop, I fail. In the spirit of honesty, I listened to my body, and instead of denying that the anxiety existed, I gave myself a distraction by intentionally focusing on the process. I drifted a lot (my guilt voice has a strong pull), but acknowledging it made me stronger, and staying true to the complexity of the human condition, I am choosing to share it, rather than suppress its reality.
I began working on this new series of paintings, unsure what they were going to say, or what landscape they might be about. I just began working. It wasn’t until I was two paintings in that I realized that I was finding the painting through the act of making it — not revolutionary at all, but a fundamental theme in much of modern painting. I’ve been making art for all my life so I was not surprised to find that the strokes and marks I put on the canvas are just as much a part of me, as they are representations of what feelings and landmarks I am trying to portray. These paintings were less about a geographical place and more about my place. My place in the world, my emotional state, my physical placement to the canvas, my perspective of the world, my position on abstract art, my standing in my search for truth.
I am using this body of work to further explore my ideas and my aesthetic — less emphasis given to location, but more on the process of creating abstract work.
Event photos by Stephanie Cizmar for RVCA Canada
The History of Here.
Exhibit held at THE AVIARY
637 EAST 15TH AVE, Vancouver, BC
DECEMBER 11 - 17, 2017
I use my painting as a way of storytelling. In this collection of drawings I use abstracted marks and simple forms referencing the landscapes of my surroundings. My work embraces my relationship with the stimulating terrain of places I’ve visited. These drawings are my visual reactions and interpretations of natural patterns that I have observed. By eliminating a strong colour palette present in my past work, and by using primarily drawing techniques, focus is given to the monochrome markings. These markings mimics the sounds and movements observed in my daily life. The drawings, made up of overlapping tonal fields, clusters of organic patter, soft swooping lines, and bold points of interest, together create a fanatical map that describes an experience. I aim to create something that is somewhat familiar, but yet ambiguous. I am interested in the slightly mystic and abstract. I try to turned a lived experience into something tangible, painting my relationships to particular places and moments.
When I close my eyes and listen I can hear the wind. It’s distant. It may be coming from outside the window, but it could just as likely be coming from a memory. It’s a familiar sound and with a little concentration I use the recognizable sound as a portal to revisit this memory.
With intention I listen harder to the wind sound. More specifically it is the sound of leaves rustling. Still with my eyes closed, I can see the branches of trees swaying from the wind gusts. The wind is caught up in this family of aspens. The fields surrounding them remain calm and motionless. From above, the forest looks like a patch of green, cold and shivering from the wind. It is this wind that brings the otherwise static trees to life. A single leaf breaks away and falls to the ground, only to be quickly picked up again, in a spiralling dance. It does cartwheels across the ground. The wind is invisible, and yet this leaf is illuminating its speed and motion, giving me insight into its path. I feel privileged to be able to clearly see the unremarkable.
Taking control of my memory, I orchestrate a game. I dip the leaf in ink and let it be free again to play with the wind. I pluck several other leaves and do the same with them. The frolicking leaves interact with their surroundings, leaving a trail of their organic impressions. Somehow both complex and plain. Painted marks and ticks and lines are filling my mind’s peripheral. I open my eyes and grab my brushes.
The Causal Effect.
Exhibit held at Back Gallery Project
603 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC
September 7 - 30, 2017
In The Causal Effect, her first exhibition at Back Gallery Project, Delaney continues her investigation into the temporal qualities of two-dimensional space. By methodically layering and combining various marks and areas of color, Delaney creates a visual conversation that invokes a subtle narrative while also alluding to her meditative process. Although they borrow compositionally from the fervor of action painting, Delaney’s works belie an intricate amalgamation of gestural strokes and forms, colors, and lines that the artist observes in her day-to-day.
At first glance, the splashes of color evoke a decidedly organic palette. Like pools of forest water, or the glint of myriad autumn leaves, each canvas swirls with the hues of nature that the artist sees every day. On closer examination, however, each colorfield is linked, pierced, and surrounded by delicate markings that form a web of intricate connections throughout. Flitting through this network, the viewer is nearly lost in the dense layers only to step back and witness the minutiae coalesce into a dynamic whole.
"Sarah Delaney", Creators Vancouver. 2017 September
Sarah Delaney: New Work and Process
Solo show held at The Aviary
637 East 15th Ave, Vancouver, BC
October 7 - 21, 2016
As a memory collector, an archiver, and a hardcore nostalgia junky, I know that there is no shaking a fascination once it comes. This interest in the world around me has shaped my practice. My work is an assemblage of where I have been and what experiences have stayed with me. For this exhibit, I have pulled together a sampling of a few things that inspire me. I considered the following questions when compiling my inspiration material: What do I paint? Why do I paint? How do I paint? Upon reflecting on these questions, I have uncovered a few prominent themes found in my work.
The first answer and theme can be described as place. I see location as the lead character in my paintings. The paintings in this exhibit are all referencing British Columbia. I use colours, textures, symbols, and simplified forms referencing the landscape that I see around me. Nature and traveling are my biggest influences, not only in my work, but also in my life. It is where I feel my most happy and my most inspired.
Next, the reason why I paint, is to preserve memories, to feel alive, and to make me who I am. When I hear letters or numbers, I associate it with particular colours. When I see a colour I am reminded of a place. When I smell a perfume I am transported back to a specific time in my life when I wore that scent. I want my paintings to perpetuate these memories. I try to turn a lived experience from the past into something tangible. I paint my relationships to particular places, by deconstructing them into fragments of a memory. My paintings are ultimately a product of my existence and my interpretation of the world. Furthermore they are my contribution to this world.
The last theme of mark making speaks both to the marks I create on my canvas, as well as the marks made on the the physical world throughout history. These markings are created by using my own gestures -- ranging in motion, speed, scale, and equipment. They are a variety of small reactions that illustrate my paths of thought and process. The other side of this theme is the story of the world. A big part of my art practice is to examine and to gather information from my surroundings. I am enchanted by the patterns that occur in nature. I am interested in the large marks made by humans as interactions with our surroundings. This includes tracks, prints, and marks that we make as creatures. This also includes the natural elements, such as wind and water, that overtime alter the state of the world. It is easier to observe these patterns from above. I am inspired by the work of Yann Arthus-Bertrand and David Burdeny. In their photographs, they discover unexpected and ordinary natural and man made patterns on the Earth’s surface, and through their photos, turn them into extraordinary and sublime.
Using mark making techniques, I draw on my memories to create place. I see my painting as a way of visual storytelling. My paintings are my personal non-linear autobiographies. They are like maps of the history of my world -- a collection of colourful memories and marks that signify where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and possibly how I got to where I am today. I want to create something that is familiar, but somewhat ambiguous. I am interested in the slightly mystic and abstract, which allows the viewer to make their own assumptions and relay some of their connotations, and their own history into the artwork.
Recording In and On It
Solo show held at GAM Gallery
10 East Hastings, Vancouver BC
June 03 - 25, 2016
This exhibition aims to show the my personal relationship with thought and action, memory and touch. I use gestures of diverse motion, speed, scale and intent to steer the direction of the work within the moment. Drawing in and off of the canvas surface, each mark made becomes a sign of a tangible connection and departure.
The work is made up of a variety of small reactions that illustrate my paths of thought and process, and in turn creates a visual narrative. I use drawing for it’s fragile and temporal qualities, and equate it to our relationship with the physical world. I am interested in the marks made as interactions with out surroundings. This includes the tracks, prints, and marks that we make as creatures of the human race, as well as the natural elements that overtime alter the state of the world.