Sarah Helen Dowse was born and brought up in County Durham, studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art in Cornwall, and lived in the Scottish Borders while raising her three children and working as a professional artist and gardener. She gained a BA (Hons) degree in Humanities with Art History through the Open University in 2006 and these studies have continued to inform her own practice and philosophy on art. She now lives and works on a croft in the North West Highlands.
She works mainly in pastel on paper or card and specialises in shoe 'portraits' inspired by the different ways in which shoes can tell a personal story.
Whilst the beauty of Scottish landscapes and skyscapes have always been an inspiration, when the weather prevents working out of doors she frequently uses shoes or her own garden produce, sometimes combined with shoes, as the subject of still life paintings.
She is interested in the beauty of old shoes firstly as an aesthetic object but also, more than any other item worn, as a signifier of the character and experiences of the wearer. By placing them in a chosen setting or against a decorative background she seeks to inspire the viewer to imaginatively explore the human story behind the image.
She is also interested in the emotional and symbolic significance of shoes as a motif in films and fairytales and has painted a series of pictures inspired by the films of Sergei Paradjanov, Kenji Mizoguchi, Masaki Kobayashi and David Lean.