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Sarah Hendy


1st July, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Monday 1st July 2013

The Northcote studio of Melbourne artist Sarah Hendy.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

'Lowlands' by Sarah Hendy.

Sarah Hendy's portrait of Sydney artist and gallerist Jasper Knight - a finalist in this year's Archibald prize.

Sarah Hendy in her Northcote studio.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Sarah Hendy is a Melbourne based artist whose creative practice has taken a few unexpected twists and turns. After initially studying sound and composition at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Sarah felt compelled to approach her creative practice from a slightly different angle, and so I applied to study fine art at VCA. She started out working with sound installation, photography and drawing, but in her final year started painting - and has never looked back. 'It’s the medium that I feel I am most expressive in, and I am charmed by its rich history' says Sarah. 'It continues to intrigue me with its fluidity and endless possibilities. It isn’t stagnant until it is finished, until it is completely dry, and even then it can change over time'.

Sarah's work is haunting and quite intense - it has variously been described as nostalgic, mysterious, seductive, and dark. 'I’ve no interest in painting ‘pretty’ pictures' says Sarah, by way of explanation. 'That is not to say that I am going out of my way to avoid all things beautiful - quite the contrary really - I find beauty in the simplest of things. I can paint a picture that appears to be flowers but is in fact weeds, yet not many would recognise that.  I guess I am intent on really looking at what is there in front of me. It may be dark or it may appear boring, but within that darkness you can find beauty.'

Despite her aversion to the idea of 'pretty pictures', Sarah's work is certainly gathering attention from those who matter most!  Last year her painting entitled 'In the Garden' was a finalist in the coveted Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, and this year her portrait of Sydney artist and gallerist Jasper Knight is a finalist in Australia's most prestigious portrait award, the Archibald Prize.  Very impressive on both counts!

Sarah works from Studio Sisu, a shared creative workspace in Northcote, designed by Mäike Design Studio.   'I've been working out of Studio Sisu for the past eight months' says Sarah. 'It has been the perfect space for me working alongside dedicated and talented young creatives.  It’s a beautiful space where projects and ideas seem unrestrained and limitless.  The layout affords us flexibility to hold workshops, collaborative projects and photo shoots - and the occasional movie night!'.

You can still catch the Archibald Prize exhibition at Goulburn Regional Art Gallery from July 13th to August 25th 2013, which includes portraits by so many talented Australian painters - well worth a look before it finishes up at the end of next month.  Sarah's work can also be seen in a group show of self-portraits entitled 'Autoportrait' at Gallery Ecosse in Exeter, NSW from July 6th until until August 22nd.

Details from Sarah's studio. Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Studio Sisu - the Northcote studio complex where Sarah Hendy is based.  Photo - Sean Fennessy.

Detail from Sarah's shared studio space. Photo - Sean Fennessy.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email