From Dundee to Dubai: Meet Sarah Burt

22 August 2019

In April, we were delighted to announce a new residency exchange programme in partnership with Tashkeel Studios in Dubai, supported by the British Council. Emirati artist, Salama Nasib joined us in Dundee, creating beautiful prints and working with our team. You can hear more from Salama here.

Now, we're thrilled to introduce you to Sarah Burt, our artist in Dundee who will be travelling to Dubai in September. We caught up with Sarah to hear more about her practice, what she hopes to achieve during her residency and more! 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?

I graduated Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design (DJCAD) with a BDes(Hons) in illustration back in 2016. Since then I've spent a lot of my time just working a regular job, but I've always tried to keep up my art practice by contributing in group shows and working on personal projects. 

My work has a pretty strong focus on character design, and is inspired aesthetically by tribal arts and primitive cultures. A lot of my art has the aura of deities and spirits; I like trying to give a form to something intangible, like a feeling or concept, and try to personify it. 

What's your favourite medium to work in?

When I'm printmaking my favourite medium is definitely screenprint - I love the bold flat colours you get with screenprinting which can be difficult in other mediums. I'm pretty confident with it as a process now and there's also something very satisfying about being able to print a big edition in just a few hours.

"I love the bold flat colours you get with screenprinting..."

I also really love to use watercolours, though I tend to use them in a bit of an unconventional way by putting big blocks of flat colour down then building on top with detail, using the surface tension of the paint to create linework. I'm sure some artists who are more familiar with watercolour techniques would cringe at that idea, but it works for me!

What does a typical day look like for you in Dundee?

I'm not sure I really have a typical day! I don't really keep a strict schedule at the moment. A lot of my time used to be taken up by working a full-time retail job, but I've given that up for this opportunity in Dubai. I try to do at least a little drawing or painting every day, and I sometimes head into the print studio at DJCAD (where I've been a volunteer print tech part-time for a couple of years now) for a day of printing if I want to work on something which I don't have the facilities for at home.  I also spend a lot of my time being social with friends; I play a lot of roleplay games like Dungeons & Dragons. 

What do you hope to achieve during your residency in Dubai? Are you doing any preparation?

I will be running quite a few workshops while I'm over there so I've mainly been trying to plan for those at the moment. My intention is for most of the workshops I run to be related to zines and artist's books, which is a scene I've been quite involved in in Dundee as well. 

"...I really want the work I make to be a response to actually being in Dubai."

In terms of my own work I don't want to plan too much, because I really want the work I make to be a response to actually being in Dubai. I know that Tashkeel Studios has a great textile printing facility, so I'm hoping to experiment with that and hopefully bring a new dimension to my printmaking.

I've also been doing a lot of reading about the native Emirati culture, and am keen to learn even more about that when I'm over in the UAE.

What's on your Dubai to-do list? Have you started to make a plan yet?

The first week or so of being in Dubai is called Orientation, and I think this is when I'll be doing a lot of the sort-of sightseeing things. Because I really want to learn as much about the heritage of Dubai and the UAE when I'm there, most of the places I'm very excited to go are museums and heritage sites; in particular I'm quite excited to visit The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. I also would love to visit the desert - I've actually never travelled outside of Europe so I'm excited to visit an environment which is so vastly different to anything I've experienced before!

Anything else you'd like to add?

Yes! One of the things I've spoken with Tashkeel about is expanding their zine library while I'm over there, and I thought it could be really cool to take over some zines from artists / designers based in Scotland. If anyone would like to donate any zines for me to take with me, please get in touch via Instagram (@mysteriouscube). I'll also be using Instagram to document my trip if anyone is interested in following what I'm upto!

Thanks Sarah! It sounds like it will be an enriching, productive and fascinating trip. We'll be catching up with Sarah on her journey and hearing from Salama again, so do watch this space! 

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