From the beginning, artist Sarah Platt was onto something. Sarah’s colourful naive non-naturalistic style vistas of Palmerston North streets, buildings and landmarks caught on when she introduced them in 2003, and have kept the painter busy ever since.
‘‘It wasn’t a deliberate thing. I’d been doing portrait work for family members and was working on a series for Easter. I used to drive past Savage Cres, and got to thinking there wasn’t much artwork of Palmerston North – [actually] there still isn’t.’’
When Sarah first talked about her streetscape idea, people laughed. ‘‘‘It’s Palmerston North,’ they said, ‘there won’t be a market for that sort of stuff’.’’
Her first exhibition of the distinctive paintings was held at Taylor-Jensen Gallery. ‘‘They went like hot-cakes.’’ And still do. These days, Sarah spends much of her time on commissions – paintings of places that have meaning for people and their families – homes, schools, churches, streets and the like – as keepsakes or gifts. Some pieces can take three months to complete, and Sarah regards them as legacies.
‘‘The paintings are all someone’s story. The non-naturalistic style enables me to reproduce everything in a composition that is pleasing, and the public response has kept me going.’’
If there was a demand for this style from locals, she thought, it might go down well in other centres. To date she has painted a series of Hawkes Bay towns, Whanganui, New Plymouth and Wellington, and is working on a series of Auckland paintings.
‘‘Hopefully I can get to paint most New Zealand cities.’’
But, as her commissioned work is pre-sold, Sarah hasn’t got enough original paintings left for an exhibition.
‘‘Jack Register told me I have to keep a presence for the home audience, and people here have been good to me, so I’ve managed to borrow about 10 paintings from private collectionss that people won’t have seen before.’’
The exhibition opens in Square Edge this Friday, March 18 and runs until April 12. During it Sarah plans to set up an easel and progress a commissioned painting she is working on so people can appreciate the work that goes into it.
Artist Sarah Platt with three of the paintings borrowed from private collections for her new exhibition opening in Square Edge on Friday.