artists register

sarah burgess

Vanishing Threads, detail. 2007

Vanishing Threads, detail. 2007

The impression of drawnthread open-structured fabric captured in solid glass. To commission for screens and windows.

50cm x 35cm


 Current work continues to explore issues related to life stories, fragility and moments of incident which I began to explore with an earlier collection of work, G'love Stories. Working with museums, I used gloves and glove patterns as a metaphor for ageing and narratives of life events. The glove became a second skin, protecting but also revealing traces of life stories.

Recent work has continued to use objects as inspiration, suggesting the possibility of an anthropomorphic interpretation. The safety pin, an everyday useful object, may have it's function subverted, the shards reformed into new temporary assembledges, paper scissors are made of paper and a  discarded shrub becomes a fetish object. The process of the state of making or unmaking is often incorporated into the idea of my work;  flux, a moment caught in time and held for inspection.

The written word has always been important, handwriting gives authenticity and identity, it is the mark of a real hand. Unreadable text ,linked to issues of personality surrounding dementia,  with it's ambiguity and strange mystery continue to be a part of my work.

Three dimensional work may be placed, form installations or be suitably wall mounted. Two dimensional drawings and artist prints are also available.

Innovative glass work, incorporating the impression of  textile structures, suitable for internal and external work is produced in collaboration with a skilled stained glass maker.

Please contact me for further information, images of other works, to discuss opportunities and for prices.




 My training in embroidery gave me making skills, a meticulous approach to working with materials as well as an eye for the experimental possibilities of a wide range of media and methods. Having worked for many years with a broad range of students across further and higher education, I prefer not to categorise what I do now. Stitch, print or installation - it’s just my work.

I use whatever method seems appropriate to what I am working on.

 Drawing is always important to my practice, allowing space for thought and investigation of my subject matter. Often using mono-print methods the exploratory drawn mark develops its own voice and may also incorporate text, both readable and unreadable. I enjoy the unexpected marks and textures which disrupt my print drawings and often find they prompt a new thought.  Prints may be layered with transparency or cut and pieced, inserted with silk making complex printed surfaces layered with marks of stitch, colour sometimes veiled by time or weather.

I am excited by the qualities of materials, including fabric but also ceramic, glass, wood, metal or feathers; materials strongly contrasting in weight and character and used for their expressive properties.


Previous work explored themes of glove making and working hands, in collaboration with several museums for G’love Stories, a solo touring exhibition.  Tracing older glove makers, I incorporated their stories as well as artefacts from the glove industry.

Following MA studies at Manchester School of Art, my work explored the accidental incidents that disrupt the smooth order and predictability of everyday life. Dementia and memory loss have been important themes, linked to the finding of pot shards from old hydropathic institutions. The shards and their emergence from the earth are important evidence of lives lived and points of change.

Responding to the unexpected and embracing risk has become important. My work for the DIS/rupt exhibition, Drowning by Numbers; 2 degrees and 4 degrees, develops the idea of risk and uncertainty in both its theme and working method. Allowing the work to absorb dye during the exhibition period was exciting and was a literal demonstration of drowning that I want to explore further.

 Working with tutor groups as a mentor and teaching occasional freelance workshops and summer schools stimulates my own ideas. Recent experience as an exhibition curator was fascinating and I find building creative partnerships particularly rewarding.  I enjoy working with architects and clients and have completed several large commissions for both private and church clients in both textiles and stained glass, including an innovative glass which retains the image of textile structures.



1975Cambridge College of Art. 18+ Foundation
1979 – 1983Chesterfield College of Art & Design. C&G Part 1 and 2 Embroidery. Dist.
1988Cert. Ed in FE. Huddersfield University
1983 – 1993Part Time and Fractional Post teaching for the Sheffield College, Chesterfield College of Art and West Nottinghamshire College.
1993 – 2000Full time lecturer, the Sheffield College
1993 – 2003Course Co-ordinator OCN Access to Art and Design
1996 - - contTextile Study Group membership
2000 -2008Fractional posts, Sheffield College
2000 - contTutor to textiles group, Mainly Stitch.
2003 - 2008.Personal tutor, textiles tutor HND Design Crafts, HND Fine Art
18+ Foundation, Access to HE
C&G Embroidery
2008 – 14Mentor and tutor to Sheffield Mentor Group
2009Summer School, Stirling University.
2009Art in Action, workshops
2010Embroiderer’s Guild Eastern Region Summer School
2010Textile Study Group Summer School Tutor
2007 - 2011Distance Learning Tutor, BA Hons Textiles.
2009 - 2011MA Textiles Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University
2011 - contFreelance exhibiting and teaching
2014Member Sheffield Printmakers
2014 - contMentor to Edge Group Scotland
2015 - 2018Exhibitions organiser and curator Textile Study Group
2016 - contTutor to Textile Group Chesterfield

I taught art, design and textiles in college for many years whilst maintaining my own practise. The stimulus of teaching was also part of my continuing art education with the need to motivate  students often generating new ideas and ways of working with diverse materials. I do much less teaching now but it is still a powerfully motivating force for me.

Returning to study in 2009 on an MA Textiles course at Manchester School of Art provided an opportunity to explore the context and ideas around my work in greater depth. The experience of a late MA has been very rewarding and revealed links between my work and life that I had previously not suspected, opening up freer ways of working as well as confirming the importance of drawing in my practise.

Previous training in stitched textiles gives me deep technical knowledge and problem solving skills but recent work has become simpler, more restrained and powerful. Quality of line and mark are always crucial but I feel confident  about working with whatever materials and methods will express my ideas. Heavy materials such as wood, glass and ceramic shards are often contrasted with fine threads, semi-transparent fabrics and drawn thread structures. This approach was encouraged by collaboration with a glass artist, originally on commissions for stained glass windows but recently on more innovative, experimental work combining glass with textiles.

I enjoy collaboration with museum collections, the stimulus of unexpected objects sparks new ideas and connecting thoughts about display and the placing of work.

Living  away from a city has  limitations but my sources are close at hand and having a studio at my home allows me to work at whatever time of day or night seems right. Being surrounded by countryside has an effect on my work, not always obvious to a viewer, but cycles of life, growth and plant structure are often in mind.