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In Derwent


Frairs Crag, Kewsick


In Derwent is a short performance by Cumbrian artist Sarah Tew. Set in the shallow waters of Derwent Water overlooked by Friars Crag, the work takes a refreshing look at the role of the artist within landscape painting in today’s climate of contemporary art. Armed with an easel, canvas and inks the artist places herself within the picturesque scenery…knee deep. Referencing the traditional landscape painters of Cumbria and the Romantics who projected an idealised, mystical, rugged vision of The Lake District, Tew re-evaluates pre-empted ideas, revisiting a familiar lake in her home county which she often painted as a child. 

Whilst paddling in the lake, paint is thrashed onto the canvas; the absurdity of the performance highlights the boundaries between paint being both a representational and an abstract medium. For Tew, to stand in front of a canvas and paint the environment in front of her is not enough. Instead to be placed within the element of what the work is about opens up new opportunities for the artist and viewer to experience new perspectives on how we react to rural landscapes. 

The performance also carries a poignancy, allowing reflection on what may be an artist toiling with her subject of the isolating unruly landscape, but also resonates the testing times and efforts of communities in Cumbria effected by the devastation of the recent floods in Cockermouth, Tew’s home town, and other areas of the county.

Sarah Tew was born in Cumbria, she has an ongoing interest with landscape painting within The Lake District and its histories, with a particular fascination with the work of Beatrix Potter. She studied at Cumbria Institute of the Arts and has recently graduated from Byam Shaw School of Art, Central Saint Martins London. 

Alongside this performance, work is on show at the Theatre by the Lake’s Christmas Open Exhibition, Saturday 9. December - Sunday 10. January.

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