Sarah Hatton portrait

#CouncilSpotlight - Sarah Hatton

Jenna Brown

The Ottawa Arts Council supports artists and arts organizations through leadership, guidance and the provision of opportunities to advance our local creative potential.

Our series #CouncilSpotlight presents stories and experiences of Arts Council members and art award recipients.

Sarah Hatton received the RBC Emerging Artist Award in 2014

Florid, 2013, by Sarah Hatton, mixed media on panelWhere are you from?

I was born in England, and raised in Barbados and Canada. I live in Chelsea, QC

How did you get involved in the Ottawa arts community?

I started exhibiting in Ottawa at Dale Smith Gallery back in 2005, and then joined Galerie St-Laurent + Hill about a decade ago.

How would you describe your artistic practice/discipline?

I am trained as a painter, but my conceptual art pieces lead me in directions I never anticipated, but can always tie to a few common themes. My conceptual work tends to always meet at the intersection of humanity and nature, as dark and/or hopeful as that can be. I often repeat a common object thousands of times, so that the resulting pattern holds symbolic meaning beyond the sum of its parts.

Circle 1, 2013, by Sarah Hatton, mixed media on panelWhat impact has your involvement with the arts/the Ottawa arts community had on your life?

This is my home base. The Ottawa community is a supportive community that is unafraid to challenge ideas, and has made me grow as an artist in anticipation of the discussions that will come from my artistic practice. At times it feels like a small town on the world stage. It is therefore a challenging, rewarding and intellectually accountable place to make art, and as an artist who takes the integrity of my ideas very seriously, I benefit from this circle of peers.

Is there a specific moment/situation in your art career that you remember fondly?

I have a fond memory that was brought about by a sad one. After my Bee Works received international press, I was contacted by local beekeepers, asking if they could donate their own dead bee populations, so that I could continue to make more art for the cause. It was my first of many experiences where I have seen a direct human connection and activism emerge from my art. It is life-changing.

Circle 1 detail, by Sarah HattonDo you have any advice for artists in the Ottawa community or artists in general?

Ask yourself the toughest questions you can imagine about your own work before you even think of putting it out there. If it passes your own ruthless scrutiny, your audience will be able to feel that invisible quality in the finished work.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a new series of conceptual pieces intended to visualize the threat of Climate Change to our fragile ocean ecosystems.  

What was it like to receive an award from the Ottawa Arts Council? How is it impacting your career?

I remember making a wide-eyed improvised speech to the Ottawa Arts Council after the announcement that I had won, and looking out at a crowd of familiar faces spanning generations in the Ottawa Art scene. That moment was pivotal for me, as it really cemented my confidence in my own abilities in an intimate way that media and social media doesn't do. This was my community telling me that they had my back. I don't think I would have the same level of confidence and investment in my artistic ideas today had that moment not occured when it did.

For more information

To find out more about Sarah Hatton and her work, visit her website.