Scottish Enterprise Awards 2023

SME News | Scottish Enterprise Awards 2023 | 18 Sarah Kay is an award-winning artist who designs, makes, and sells an array of artwork and jewellery lovingly crafted from resin, in order to maintain its beauty for years to come. A native Shetlander, Sarah feels an intrinsic emotional connection to the Shetland Islands, with this group of islands in the North Sea inspiring a great deal of her artwork. The Shetland Islands boast a dramatic landscape complete with dark winters, bright summers, wet, wild, and windy weather. Currently based in Scalloway, Sarah crafts each piece by hand in her own studio, using a combination of epoxy resin, metallic pigments, and acrylic paint to create oceanscapes, jewellery, and gifts of the highest calibre. We catch up with Sarah to learn more about her journey and delve deeper into the inspiration behind some of her breathtaking work. It is no surprise that Sarah Kay specialises in resin seascapes and beach-themed original jewellery; growing up on a small, peat-covered island, by the name of Whalsay, Sarah spent much of her childhood adventuring around the famous Shetland Islands coast, foraging to discover shells, stones, sea glass, and pottery. To this day, Sarah maintains a passion for exploring these beaches, with a great deal of what she collects ending up inspiring or being used in her final products. Moving to Scalloway some years later, Sarah’s path to become an artist faced a catalyst in the form of a vast and unoccupied space which one surrounded her home. The appropriately titled “Highlands” engulfed Sarah’s environment on all sides, serving up challenging slopes and unparalleled views in every direction. Inspired by all of this beauty, Sarah designed and implemented her own garden, similarly rich in texture and levels. Just as she would come to do in her artwork later, Sarah considered every element that was available to her, meticulously thinking out which colours and plant combinations would best fit the layout she had envisioned. With previous experience growing and caring for plants, Sarah was well-versed in the sort of conditions that the variety of Shetland plants she aimed to grow would need to thrive. Subsequently, Sarah set about joyously building an elaborate garden from scratch that adorns the area, having the same impact that her artwork can do within the home environment, perfectly capturing a feel and an essence. Living on Scalloway has only served to strengthen Sarah’s connection with her surroundings and nature more widely. To this end, Sarah is a member of Greenpeace, raising awareness of issues surrounding pollution, all while scoping the area for shells from the beach that can be used in her work, clearing the beach of litter in the progress. Protecting the environment is a key element of Sarah’s business; after all, it is these picturesque landscapes which allow her to make a living doing what she does. With a beautiful location to boot, Sarah is constantly coming up with new ideas to further the business and expand her artwork portfolio. This, combined with her relatively new-found interest in snorkelling following a dip at Shetland’s Meal Beach in 2020, has led to her swimming the length of various beaches across the group of islands, equipped with an underwater camera. Sarah’s underwater prints and colourful artwork stem from her experiences in this underwater world, and these are available to purchase as part of her underwater collection. Sarah’s tool of choice for the majority of these projects is resin, which, as a durable and a long-lasting material, ensures that the seascapes which she creates will stand the test of time. The studio where Sarah designs all of her pieces is open to the public, and the location boasts stunning views over Scalloway, and access to Sarah’s accompanying hillside garden. Making and selling her own unique pieces of art has always been the ultimate dream for Sarah, and now that she has achieved this as a viable career option, she is proud to share her work and its inspiratory setting with as many people as possible on the beautiful island on which she lives. In recent years, resin has seen a considerable increase in popularity, and as such, Sarah strives to keep her artwork completely authentic and unique, meaning that it cannot easily be copied by other such artists. With the Shetland Islands possessing over 1,700 miles of coastline, comprised of white sand beaches, crystal-clear coves, and rugged cliffs, there is no shortage of inspiration for Sarah’s work. When this is combined with what Sarah calls an “unstoppable creative energy and passion for [my] islands”, the heart of the artwork which she produces is distinctive, special, and cannot be replicated. Following on from this, Sarah’s pride in being Scottish and sustainably profiting from her surroundings is what has continued to drive her business forward, embracing this backdrop and turning Scotland’s landscapes into masterpieces across her product range. Since this location is remote, the islands experience a restricted number Most Innovative Oceanscape Artist 2023: Sarah Kay