Investigating the life of things across space and time

As an artist, writer and performer her work takes many forms including events, installation, words and works on paper but always investigates a subject from multiple angles – from colour and form to cautionary tales and space exploration. Often engaging with others, her projects involve a process of focused research and close collaboration at the beginning of an idea which is then developed over a few months to a year. Most recently she has worked with astrophysicists, fly fishers, private detectives, hot air balloonists, neuroscientists and weavers. 

Sarah Gillett teaching in Cetinje for British Council, Montenegro
Sarah Gillett and the ancient tree of Deal

About

Sarah Gillett

Gillett is obsessed with the stuff that makes us and the stuff we make. Her practice explores histories of belief, ritual and storytelling in order to question our place in the universe today. Starting from her collection of fossils, gothic oddities, Victorian ornaments and old dictionaries, she brings art, science, landscape and language together to build fables across space and time. 

Sarah Gillett on Tim O'Mara residency in Calgary. Photo by Jaekyun Im.

In 2012, whilst studying printmaking at the Royal College of Art, London, she won the Pushing Print Solo Award for Earthquake, a large-scale collage work produced as a result of her winning the Tim Mara RCA residency. In 2014 she undertook a geological research programme in Ontario, working with astronomers, palaeontologists, fossil hounders and material scientists resulting in a body of work focused on meteorites and their falls.

Sarah Gillett on Tim O'Mara residency at University of Calgary. Photo by Jaekyun Im.

Her set of essays Sea shells, silk sails and the parabolic etching of the night sky was shortlisted for the Intellect Publishing Prize. In 2016 she mounted Quarry, a solo exhibition of collage, print, painting and embroidered works at the Brocket Gallery, London, UK inspired by Paolo Uccello’s 1470 painting The Hunt in the Forest. In 2017 she was an artist with the Laboratory of Dark Matters, a group of particle astrophysicists and artists driven by a shared curiosity of the unknown.

After completing a Lumen art-and-astronomy residency in Italy in 2018 she undertook an artistic collaboration exploring mysterious cases in the universe with Tim Corne at O House Studios, Sydney, Australia, following which her work was presented at Sydney Contemporary 2019. 

From 2020-2021 she has been commissioned by Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts to develop a new body of work that digs into night landscapes and the different ways that we traverse darkness physically and emotionally, from archeology and astronomy to mythology, spiritualism and depression.

Sarah performing Stars Fell on Alabama
Holding the crystal ball

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The kiss: a single left hand floats against a black background

The kiss

In the end, it was neither a flash nor a tunnel. The kiss had lived through many breaths and many stories, from the eager tongues of fairytale princes to the dry rubbery gums of the dying in hospital beds. Once there had even been a woman who changed into a pillar of salt.

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Screenplay: Black and white TV static

Screenplay

The grinding keeps us awake all night. The slipping noise of tooth against tooth, the squeak and rasp of shiny enamelled edges filing monotonously against an equal occluded opposite.

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The Angel Hunters: painted swirls in red, yellow and brown

The Angel Hunters (2012)

Most people whose mental digestion of the marvellous is quite robust will refuse to believe this account, and yet there must be a few whose hair has been stirred and whose hearts have beat an unusual tattoo at the sound of a ‘Something Inexplicable’ in the watches of the night. Our conclusion is that there are such things as spirits, and in believing, we tremble…

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