As an artist, writer and performer her work takes many forms including events, installation, words and works on paper but always investigates a subject from multiple angles – from colour and form to cautionary tales and space exploration. Often engaging with others, her projects involve a process of focused research and close collaboration at the beginning of an idea which is then developed over a few months to a year. Most recently she has worked with entomologists, astrophysicists, private detectives, neuroscientists and weavers.
Gillett is obsessed with the stuff that makes us and the stuff we make. Her practice explores histories of belief, ritual and storytelling in order to question our place in the universe today. Starting from her collection of fossils, gothic oddities, Victorian ornaments and old dictionaries, she brings art, science, landscape and language together to build fables across space and time.
In 2012, whilst studying printmaking at the Royal College of Art, London, she won the Pushing Print Solo Award for Earthquake, a large-scale collage work produced as a result of her winning the Tim Mara RCA residency. In 2014 she undertook a geological research programme in Ontario, working with astronomers, palaeontologists, fossil hounders and material scientists resulting in a body of work focused on meteorites and their falls.
Her set of essays Sea shells, silk sails and the parabolic etching of the night sky was shortlisted for the Intellect Publishing Prize. In 2016 she mounted Quarry, a solo exhibition of collage, print, painting and embroidered works at the Brocket Gallery, London, UK inspired by Paolo Uccello’s 1470 painting The Hunt in the Forest. In 2017 she was an artist with the Laboratory of Dark Matters, a group of particle astrophysicists and artists driven by a shared curiosity of the unknown.
After completing a Lumen art-and-astronomy residency in Italy in 2018 she undertook an artistic collaboration exploring mysterious cases in the universe with Tim Corne at O House Studios, Sydney, Australia, following which her work was presented at Sydney Contemporary 2019.
From 2020-2021 she was commissioned by Fermynwoods Contemporary Arts to respond to Rockingham Castle in Northamptonshire. Her resulting body of work revolved around the presence of the house’s female occupants over many centuries and the echoes they left behind.
In 2023 she worked with the entomology department of the Übersee-Museum Bremen on a new storyshow using the museum’s insect collection as a starting point. This work was part of NEO Collections, a project bringing together artists, scientists, curators and technologists to create new meaningful stories from online museum collections. It is hoped that Small Beauties will tour worldwide.
Following on from this collaboration, in 2024 Sarah is devising a new work for the museum related to the Pacific islands.