Artist stranded in Yorkshire during pandemic is now opening her studio to the public

From today, visitors to Sheffield are being given the chance to see more than 100 artists in their studios in a five-day celebration of the city's creativity, writes Catherine Scott. Pictures by Simon Hulme.

When Sarah Joseph-Dasent and her husband travelled to the UK from their home in Trinidad, it was only supposed to be for a year. But then the pandemic hit and they were not allowed to return. Instead the artist and her music producer husband moved to Sheffield where they had family and were welcomed with open arms.

Now Sarah is one of more than 100 artists opening their studios to the public as part of the five-day Open Up Sheffield festival which starts today (May 4).

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“We travelled to the UK in 2019 so that my husband, who is blind, could do his Masters degree, but just a few months after we arrived the pandemic hit. Trinidad is a very small country with just 1.3 million people and we have very few ventilators and so they shut the borders to everyone so we couldn’t get home,” Sarah recalls.

Artist Sarah Joseph-Dasent pictured at KIAC Studios Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon HulmeArtist Sarah Joseph-Dasent pictured at KIAC Studios Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme
Artist Sarah Joseph-Dasent pictured at KIAC Studios Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme

London was very expensive, so once he had finished his Masters they moved to Sheffield where they had family and he could start a Phd.

“It was a very anxious time but I can’t believe how warmly we were received. I was worried where my art was concerned I would be starting all over again. But I think my background and 20 years of experience helped. In fact my art has developed since moving to the UK. My colour palette has expanded and I have ben so inspired by the seasons and the different people I meet.”

It was at school in Port of Spain that Sarah’s love of art took root and blossomed within a vibrant art department. On leaving high school, she was accepted to Howard University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Washington DC.

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Then, After taking time off to start a family, Sarah returned to Trinidad to teach art at her alma mater in 1994. Whilst there, she began painting again and exhibited in a number of galleries. Utilising a mixture of watercolours and acrylic on canvas, she incorporated scenes of everyday life and indigenous festivals and explored the juxtaposition between fantasy and reality, celebrating the beauty of her natural environment within a semi-abstract vein.

Artist Caroline Fisher is pictured at her home Kent Road Meersbrook, Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon HulmeArtist Caroline Fisher is pictured at her home Kent Road Meersbrook, Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme
Artist Caroline Fisher is pictured at her home Kent Road Meersbrook, Sheffield Picture taken by Yorkshire Post Photographer Simon Hulme

After moving to Sheffield in late 2021, Sarah was asked to join the Walkley Edge Artists Group and she submitted work to Sheffield's Art in the Gardens in September 2022, receiving the award for “Best Figurative & Portrait” for her piece entitled Autumn Spirit in the Open Exhibition. The highlight of her career to date has been her recent audience with Pope Francis, whom she presented with one of her original paintings.

Now making Sheffield her home, she finds that her new environment has influenced her current work significantly. Sarah is known for her vibrant layers of organic transparencies; each painting a distinctiveinterpretation of the world around her. Utilizing acrylic on canvas as her medium, her use of colour boldly reveals her Caribbean heritage. She has been back to Trinidad since the borders reopened but she hopes to make Sheffield her home. “My husband works with musical instrument manufacturers to help people with disabilities. There is nothing like that in Trinidad.”

James Green is an artist and printmaker based in Sheffield who specialises in linocut and screen-print and have been working in these mediums for around 20 years.

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Fifteen years ago he decided to give up his ‘proper’ job to concentrate on art fulltime and set up a studio at the top of his garden.

"My subjects range from landscapes to UK wildlife to surreal donkey compositions and larger abstract works.”

James studied art at university back in the early 1990s. “I never realised you could do printmaking (as daft as that sounds now). About 20 years ago I was lent some lino, tools and inks and I made a print of my cat. I was hooked straight away. I now teach workshops roughly once a month, and love to see how people from different backgrounds approach creating prints.

“Most print ideas will start out as a photograph I’ve taken, or a drawing, or sometimes a combination of both. I’ll simplify the image to where I think it needs to be for a linocut. I’ll then transfer the image to the lino and cut away," he explains.

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"For prints with more than one colour I will use separate printing plates and trust my registration skills. I sometimes use my book press for printing, but other times I’ll use just the back of a dessert spoon. It really depends on the nature and size of the print.”

Caroline Fisher is a painter and printmaker who likes to work both big and small on wood and paper.

"I like to combine both techniques on occasions and experiment and love using colour and pattern,” she says.

“I love painting nature, animals and people especially trees, using acrylic paint on both paper and wood. I cut and print lino both alone and over my paintings which gives a great layered feel to my work.”

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Christine, who was an art teacher and head of art in Rawmarsh school in Rotherham for a number of years, works for part of the year in a large converted greenhouse in her garden.

"It is lovely at this time of year and in the autumn especially as I get inspiration for my work from my garden. Summer and winter do become rather too hot or too cold though.

“I love Renaissance art and how colour combinations are used and take inspiration from that era. I use colour, patterns, shapes and lines together in both paint and print which gives me the lovely flat cut edges and patterns from the print. I like to use digital art to experiment with my art work to create different effects and generally love experimenting with different ideas and mediums and to discover new effects and results.”

It is the first time she has taken part in Open Up Sheffield after she was inspired visiting a friend’s studio in last years event.

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“I have been working up to the event all year and I am really hoping a lot of people come to see me at work as I am also hoping to start some workshops in the future.”

Kieran Flynn started out as a potter and spent a number of years as an actor in London before returning to Sheffield no long before the pandemic.

"I was offered a space at Kelham Island arts Collective, but due to social distance there wasn’t space for my pottery equipment and so I started painting instead.” And he hasn’t looked back. Kieran is fascinated with street art, but how is relates to a more abstract form of studio based art. Having grown up in the Peak Distract and then lived in Sheffield for a number of years he is interested in the contrast between the two landscapes, in particular urban decay. He uses spray paint, stencils and acrylic to create artwork on canvas.

"Rather than a usual stencil artist who has an idea of what they want to create and makes their stencils accordingly, I work the other way around. I have a large collection of laser cut plywood stencils of different shapes and patterns and I use these to create my compositions.”

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