Downland inspires charity art project

S51076H13-SaraAbbottStudio''Artist, Sara Abbott with her Downland Trust paintings. Pictured in her studio with her dog, Karma. Steyning.
S51076H13-SaraAbbottStudio''Artist, Sara Abbott with her Downland Trust paintings. Pictured in her studio with her dog, Karma. Steyning.

ARTISTIC inspiration often materialises without warning, which is certainly the case for painter Sara Abbott, who after moving to Steyning felt ‘compelled’ to record her experience of the landscape.

Sara is a well-know dog portrait artist and her work is precise, photographic and life-like.

However her new project has taken a different turn since she moved to Steyning in July.

Sara said: “I was a woman obsessed to paint the Steyning landscape.

“I wanted to create a body of work to give something back to the land and community that I share it with.”

Sara is painting scenes from within the Steyning Downland, working with Steyning Downland Scheme and donating 25% of her eventual sales to the charity.

She is also asking residents to get in touch with her to show her their favourite places or beautiful spots so she can include them in her body of work.

Sara said: “It was not difficult at all changing from dog portraits to landscapes.

“I was walking out on the downs and it’s such an ancient place and it connected me to the land and I felt compelled to record that feeling, to record my aesthetic vision of those views in paint, it came easily.

“I’m looking forward to submerging myself in this project.

“I work with a mixture of spray paint and acrylic paint, which is great because it is a snapshot effect. It’s mark- making and a free process unlike the precision of the dog portraits.

“I work fast and attack the canvas and I end up covered in paint.

“I try and capture the magic my eyes see.

“I’m excited by the differences in all the seasons.

“I don’t have a favourite place yet but that’s why I am asking people to tell me their favourite spot. I want local stories and knowledge incorporated into this project.”

Speaking about moving to Steyning, Sara said: “I lived in Hove for 12 years and as exiting and glitter-filled Brighton is it was getting jaded and I was seeking a rural retreat; I wanted mud on my feet and twigs in my hair.”

Sara’s studio is above The Garlic Wood Farm butchers on the High Street and her work can be seen adorning the butcher’s walls.

The project will culminate next October with a pop-up exhibition in Steyning of 20 to 30 original paintings.

After the exhibition Sara is giving all rights to SDS to make calendars and cards to sell.

Matthew Thomas, project manager, Steyning Downland Scheme, said: “The Steyning Downland Scheme is thrilled to be working with Sara on the landscapes of the Steyning Downlands exhibition.

“Sara’s paintings capture very well what the SDS is all about, encouraging people to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the Downs on their doorstep.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing the full exhibition and will be promoting it to all our friends and wider contacts.”

For more information, or to suggest a place for Sara call 07766168027 or visit