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In The Studio

Artists under Lockdown: Sara Flynn

A ceramicist exploring new glazes in her Belfast studio.

By TDE Editorial Team / 20th May 2020
Sara Flynn in her studio COURTESY: Sara Flynn / PHOTOGRAPH: Glenn Norwood

Sara Flynn in her studio
COURTESY: Sara Flynn / PHOTOGRAPH: Glenn Norwood

The Design Edit (TDE): How are you keeping busy in self-isolation?
Sara Flynn (SF): I have been really lucky. In a sense my day-to-day life has not changed much at all. The studio is connected to the house, and I am giving myself the self-discipline to be in the studio by nine every weekday and to work until five or six in the afternoon. I have always had a home studio so this is not a new discipline.

In addition, I have an exhibition at Erskine, Hall & Coe in October, so although there is so much uncertainty currently about the future, I just have my head down making a new body of work. I went to Japan last year and I always knew that I would be producing this new work for the autumn show. I set myself the task of exploring new surfaces and glazes, like a college project, and there has been more fire in the belly of it because of the extra focus I have had. There have been so many disasters – which goes with experimenting. But I have been very methodical about the experimenting and that has been very exciting, even with the disasters. The work has set its own tasks for me, to keep me on track, and I am now really excited about it.

Sara Flynn, 'Hipped Vessel', 2019 COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

Sara Flynn, ‘Hipped Vessel’, 2019
COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

TDE: Everyone’s pace of life has slowed down considerably; what is the impact of this new rhythm on your work and home life?
SF: The challenge has been not to go into the studio at the weekend! Usually, we would go to Cork once a month at the weekend, or drive to Donegal for a night. It is hard to keep the adrenaline and excitement up without these breaks. Luckily we’re able to be out in the garden and can walk by the river near us. And in the evenings, we play chess! My partner is way better than me, but I am improving. We used just to play on holiday, but now we play often in the evenings and during the weekends for sure.

Sara Flynn, 'Low Flection Vessel', 2019 COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

Sara Flynn, ‘Low Flection Vessel’, 2019
COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

TDE: Do you have a favourite self-isolation recipe to share with us?
SF: We have edamame beans in their shells, with salt, as if we were in Wagamamas fifteen years ago. It is great grazing food whilst playing chess. There is an amazing Asian supermarket along the river from here, which I can reach by bike very quickly. Little treats like this have become really important.

TDE: What is saving your sanity under lockdown?
SF: The chess is keeping me sane – and the garden. But by the time I come out of the studio my brain is wiped, so I am also watching movies. I need something light that isn’t too challenging.

Sara Flynn, 'Ipseity Vessel & Flection Vessel', 2019 COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

Sara Flynn, ‘Ipseity Vessel & Flection Vessel’, 2019
COURTESY: Erskine, Hall & Coe / PHOTOGRAPH: Stuart Burford

TDE: Which online exhibition/gallery viewing room, or other internet offerings have caught your eye?
SF: I am not spending a whole heap of time online. But I have found the new image of Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ at the Rijksmuseum online. Normally it’s such a scrum to see the painting when you are in the museum. Now you can enjoy the painting in a much quieter way. The museum sistered up with researchers using the latest technologies so that every detail can be seen by the naked eye, without any picture distortion. It was a really creative thing to do.

Sara Flynn at work COURTESY: Sara Flynn / PHOTOGRAPH: Glenn Norwood

Sara Flynn at work
COURTESY: Sara Flynn / PHOTOGRAPH: Glenn Norwood

Sara Flynn will have a solo exhibition of new work in October 2020 at Erksine Hall & Coe.

Operation Night Watch – the largest research and conservation project ever for ‘The Night Watch’, streamed live from the Rijksmuseum.

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