Sarah Dunn was born in Northumberland in 1979, studying at Chelsea School of Art under the tutelage of Roger Ackling and graduating in 2002 with a first class honours in Fine Art. Through her creative practice Sarah Dunn responds to the work of artists, poets and writers and she has a keen interest in ornithology which has a big influence on her work:
‘I am interested in the charged space that exists between birds and humans, the language we use to articulate the gaps in our understanding and how i can expand this with visual language. I think there is much to be learned about ourselves from looking at birds.’
Now situated at Cheeseburn, Sarah’s ‘Stanza’ sculpture was originally commissioned by the Newcastle Institute of Creative Arts Practice and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums as a response to ‘Screaming Steel: War, Art and Trauma 1914-1918’ held at the Hatton Gallery in 2014. In Stanza, Dunn focuses on the poetry and war diaries of Edward Thomas (1878-1917). In his poetry, Thomas references the songbirds that he saw and heard whilst at the Western Front as symbols of life and hope for humanity. This imagery is juxtaposed with powerful poetic ideas of stoicism, flight and survival and the contrasting but equally powerful experiences of hopelessness, loss and captivity. The sculptural form resembles an ammunition shell, proportionally scaled to reflect the size and stature of standing stones and border markers. It is clad in feather scalloped tiers, covered with poppy seeds. This is a direct reference to the familiar imagery of the churned and destroyed battlefield, reborn after the chaos with the growth of a flower.