“It is the work that matters, not the applause that follows.”
– Robert Falcon Scott
I'm Sarah, an award-winning professional polar artist and illustrator with a background in ocean exploration and marine biology. I've worked as a full time artist since 2015. I work in pencil, watercolours, acrylics, airbrush, pastels, and I also make cyanotypes.
My art education has been varied, and rather than a traditional art school education I have prioritised backing up my visual work with real-world experience. It is very important to me that my work is authentic, I do not wish to be an armchair explorer! I studied Fine Art in Cambridge, Marine Biology in Cornwall, and Ocean Exploration in Plymouth. I've also completed polar expedition training with Capt. Louis Rudd and Wendy Searle, and was an artist in residence on the Arctic Circle Expedition Residency in 2022.
I've had a passion for polar exploration and history for many years, having attended school just around the corner from the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. I have created artwork for establishments including the Mawsons Huts Foundation and the Explorers Club Great Britain & Ireland Chapter.
This year (2023) I've exhibited my portrait work at Discovery Point in Dundee, and I'll be the first ever artist in residence at the Shackleton Autumn School in Kildare, Ireland, and I hope to begin a couple of new projects: one involving polar expedition kit through the decades, and another exploring the polar regions as sensory deprivation. You can keep up wth my arty adventures on my Instagram page!
Testimonials and Press
"Sarah Barnard’s watercolours of iconic events during the Heroic Age have been painted with a very sensitive touch. The figures have just enough detail so that you immediately recognize the scene and the event portrayed. The blue colours are carefully weighted so that the pictures have a sense of calm. I therefore purchased her painting of Scott, Shackleton and Wilson on their “Farthest South” to be framed next to my collection of signatures of these explorers. Her painting adds colour to the otherwise black and white photos by Ponting and Hurley.
I have also been impressed with her range of drawings of Arctic and Antarctic explorers and have purchased her picture of Mawson. In my opinion Sarah is able to capture his character in her drawing.
I have seen Sarah’s work on the profile Facebook pages of “Ireland Should Honour Tom Crean” as well as the “Shackleton Endurance page” which is how I came to know about Sarah’s work."
- Dr. Lewis Levitz
"Sarah Barnard's polar work, particularly her online, social media activity, is fun and engaging. It brings together fans of polar adventures--artists, historians and a wide range of enthusiasts.
Her watercolours and pencil portraits of the big names of the 'Heroic Age' have proved very popular with many and sharing her progress and new projects (tackling the textures of icescapes and Antarctic features) gives the work a great accessibility and openness.
I wanted a new profile icon for the Shackleton's Endurance Facebook page and Sarah created a portrait of Sir Ernest Shackleton for me this year. She was attentive and generous in our discussions. At least one other polar Facebook page has also used Sarah's work in this way."
- Liam Maloney - Shackleton's Endurance
"Since 2010, I’ve administered a campaign for the greater recognition of Tom Crean, an explorer who served alongside Scott and Shackleton on three expeditions to Antarctica in the early 20th century.
Over that period I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the images and artwork I upload to the platforms I operate to assist the ambition.
To that end I am sent various images from artists wishing to display their work to the growing audiences that follow the cause - currently these number over 40,000 as a combined number of those following our social media and internet platforms.
The images I seek and am sent are wide ranging and can be in the form of photographs, paintings, sketches and drawings depicting anything related to Antarctica and, over this period, I have developed a discerning eye for quality.
Tom Crean is a favourite subject for many artists so you can imagine the number of images I’ve come across that in one way or another relate to him and his story.
In my ninth year of operating the campaign I happened across the work of Sarah Barnard and was blown away by what I saw. Sarah has what seems to be an effortless capability to transfer her passion for all things polar to canvas in a way that I’ve never before encountered. Her sketches from Crean, to Laurence Oates and to modern day explorers such as Henry Worsley are masterpieces that to my mind are unrivalled works of art. Her abstract paintings and marine based artworks are innovative works that show off Sarah’s great talent and creativity and the subjects of her work have a depth far greater than the paints or pencils applied to a canvas.
Her work will I’m sure, sit on the highest of platforms alongside other great artists and I feel privileged to be among a growing army of admirers who recognise the same."
Tim Foley - Author of 'Tom Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero'