Sara-J's profile

Sara-J was born in the United Kingdom, but returned to South Africa at the age of nine months old with her mother. Her father is also an artist who studied at Saint Martins in London in the mid-1950s. She spent the better part of her childhood growing up in Cape Town, South Africa. Sara-J currently lives near Amsterdam in the Netherlands and has spent as much time as possible working in Die, France.

She studied at the Cape Technikon between 1985 and 1988, majoring in graphic fine art after successfully completing the four-year study. Sara-J was awarded the Hilary and Dorothy Champion Charitable Trust Bursary and the William Thorpe Bursary in 1986 and 1987 respectively. She studied under the well-know South African painter Jan Vermeeren.

She was one of three South African artists selected to exhibit in the People's Republic of China in 1987. In the same year, Sara-J held her first solo exhibition at the Yellow Door in Cape Town. In his review, art critic Henry Simmonds commented that it was certainly a question of 'Joynt Toying With Weighty Themes'. Sara-J's first exhibition featuring her early oils was held in 1992 at ARTernatives Gallery in Johannesburg. Following that Sara-J held exhibitions either internationally, nationally or locally (including the UK, USA, China, Portugal, South Africa, Namibia, Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands). Sara-J's works have found their way into businesses and homes throughout the world and she has sold work extensively in Australia and New Zealand.

In the past 27-year period, Sara-J set up network of retail outlets employing and training numerous people personally, creating a unique market for the sale of affordable art and acquiring a solid base of young collectors throughout the world. Limited edition etchings were produced in her prolific studio for galleries all over South Africa and abroad, and local art fairs including seven annual Grahamstown Festivals. Sara-J originals are still highly sought after. Her subject matter is humorous and often light-heartedly erotic, depicting and inspired by her everyday life experiences. In 1996, Sara-J featured in the prestigious Southern Life calendar and then published her own calendars for three consecutive years (1998, 1999 and 2000).

At the beginning of 2000, the artist rediscovered her childhood sweetheart and left her beloved South Africa to begin a strange and isolated life in an even stranger, colder place, the Netherlands. The ensuing decade has been the most difficult period in the artist’s life so far. Dealing with isolation and the loss of her country, having another child, adjusting to another culture and struggling against all odds to produce and remain focused as an artist and be true to herself, has been a great challenge.

Since arriving in Europe, Sara-J has held several private viewings and solo exhibitions back home in South Africa, but also in the UK, France and Germany. She has also completed several private commissions for collectors, and participated in a number of group shows, initially hosting a solo exhibition in 2000 on the Sloterkade in Amsterdam.

Sara-J currently works mostly in oil, producing large colourful paintings. She also applies mixed media techniques in a highly original manner. The artist currently has an extensive body of work including oil paintings, monotypes, mixed media drawings, life drawings and etchings that can be viewed on this extensive website.

Interesting facts

  • Sara-J is listed in the Cape Artists and Studio Guide (1996) and the Zebra Register of South African Artists Galleries (2002).
  • Sara-J hangs in the Presidential Suite and Princess Suites of the prestigious Table Bay Hotel at the International Waterfront Complex in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Sara-J featured in an article in the Dutch 'Naturisme' magazine in 2000.
  • Sara-J featured in an article in the Dutch 'Top International Hair' magazine in 2000.
  • Sara-J was commissioned to produce a series of three original artworks for private collector birth cards.
  • Sara-J featured on the 2002 Mystery Wine Label, Tickled Pink.
  • Sara-J has featured in numerous interviews in diverse media (the Argus, Cosmopolitan, 'Gezinsblad', etc.) over the past two decades.
  • Sara-J has contributed artworks for auction to raise money in support of animal welfare (Cat Pals).
  • Sara-J is inspired by Modigliani and also Marlene Dumas, Pablo Picasso, Kees van Dongen, Frieda Kahlo, Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimpt, Francis Bacon and Zeng Fanzhi.

all images and content copyright sara-j
site credits