Earlier this year, whilst at home for the holidays, I stumbled across the work of Sarah Baddon Price in my local art gallery in Aldeburgh. I became instantly struck by her sensitive use of line, shading and colour to create these brilliantly honest responses to the female form. After getting in touch with Baddon Price, she enlightened me that her “paintings are all based on drawings made at an untutored life group I attend here in Suffolk. Sometimes if it’s quiet I actually paint direct from the model too”. I too like to attend a weekly life drawing class, and have become particularly interested in the performance of the nude model, as they pose almost perfectly still for periods of up to forty minutes in positions that remind us of the beauty and distinctiveness of each and every female form. Sarah’s work is both theatrical and melodramatic as she portrays these distinctly feminine poses in clashing blues and yellows, yet they are also simultaneously peaceful, composed and untroubled figures, that offer brief snapshots into a moment of relaxation, rather than portraying forced and laboured figures that I often find myself drawing!
Baddon Price’s use of light markings on the black outline, alongside her employment of deep blues and pinks in the above paining called Naomi’s Gifts create a distinctly elegant and feminine portrait, which shares similar qualities with the curvaceous jug and elegant flower that surround her. You can view more of Sarah’s work via her website here.
Baddon Price’s employment of soft greys and white in contrast to the violet and fuchsia presents us with an unwavering strength that shines through the above painting called Thinking of Bluebells. Yet her bold lines and angular shapes assert a certain sense of resilience, which alongside the bright colours encourage us to interpret this woman as a very strong and comfortable character amongst this angular and urban landscape. This aforementioned urban context in the painting is also presented in a feminine light due to the deep, warm purples and pinks which, creates an effortless synergy between the woman and her surroundings. This relationship between the feminine and the urban landscape is particularly interesting when we consider other landscapes that assume feminine characteristics, which we can clearly see presented in the poetry of Owen Sheers and the well renowned painting by Giorgone: Sleeping Venus.Unlike Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus or Owen Sheers’ poem Skirrid Hill where there are distinct links drawn between the natural shapes of the hills and valleys to the various curves and shapes of the female form, Baddon Price demands us to search for feminine attributes in other landscapes such as the ever-increasing urban landscape of the current day.
Finally, in contrast to Naomi’s Gifts and Thinking of Bluebells, Baddon Price’s above painting, Temple woman, does not present the female form and its context in a series of pinks, and soft greys, instead the subject is made up of a white wash and bold burnt oranges and royal blues. Yet these stereotypically masculine colours do not detract from her magnificent femininity, grace and strength. We begin to see the influence of mechanics and industrial construction in Temple woman, which Baddon Price further explores in many of her other paintings, through the use of angular shapes that resemble cogs and wheels. These shapes are also often associated with the masculine rather than the feminine. Therefore, I think Baddon Price encourages us to firstly re-examine how we define ‘the feminine’ and secondly, once we have re-considered this term with a new open mindedness, we must then scrutinise our surroundings to discover the feminine in new landscapes.