Deaf Life2nd March 2014

Sarah O'Dowd Capturing the Best Northumberland Countryside

Sarah O'Dowd enjoys painting and does not believe deafness should prevent anyone achieving their dreams.

by Sarah Lawrence

Coming from an art background, Sarah O’Dowd became interested in painting whilst at school. Living in Northumberland, Sarah has easy access to the dramatic coastal stretches of the North East of England and the beautiful hilly countryside as you travel in land. Enthusiastic and excited about her surroundings, “The colours around the coast and the countryside inspire me”, Sarah explained to me.

​Born profoundly Deaf into a hearing family, Sarah was brought up orally and was introduced to British Sign Language by Deaf friends later in her life. Exposed to art by her parents, Sarah used to attend art galleries when she was young. With one of her grandmothers living close to one of the famous Ashington Pitman Painters, Sarah was able to watch him paint, an experience that was invaluable to her as she started painting.

A wife and mother of 10 year-old twins, Sarah has to balance her family life with her painting and manage all that around the chronic fatigue she feels as someone with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). Just managing the energy of 10 year-old twins would be enough for most people!

With years of experience behind her, Sarah enjoys creating her own interpretation of the landscape around her. “My landscapes add up to much more than a record of, 'I was there and it looked like this',” she commented. Against the backdrop of being Deaf and having M.E., Sarah does not allow her deafness to stop her from achieving her dreams. For those that are interested in taking up painting Sarah advises, “Start young and be exposed to all kind of art.”

Enjoying reading, photography, walking and taking her dog out, Sarah also has a great passion for history, but it is her husband and children that make her laugh the most, although the antics of her puppy also brings a frequent smile to her face. Amongst the many positive compliments and comments she has received about her art, one stands out more than most, “My professor of Fine Art at Newcastle University likened my work to Turner during a speech he gave at my solo exhibition at Whitehall, London in 1997.”

Ambitious about her paintings, Sarah sells her work through placement in galleries and through her own website. Sarah remains keen to get her work better known and to take part in more exhibitions. She is already booked for an exhibition at the end of June at the Congregational Gallery in Rothbury, near to where she lives. To find our more go to:

Sarah uses oil and acrylics on canvas, and also with oil pastels, which working rapidly, she washes down with turpentine to creat a hazy, atmospheric feel to her work. Apart from a forced break from painting because of her M.E. Sarah has exhibited regularly since 1995, when she took part in the Festival Exhibition in Edinburgh. She has since shown her work in London, Newcastle, North Shields, Cockermouth, Leith, Alnmouth, Coldstream and Felton.

Sarah is also determined to fight her M.E., a fight for recovery in which she is making progress. Fiercely determined, Sarah tries not to let anything get her way, but she does admit that during a holiday in Italy she agreed to go on a rather tame looking ride at Garda Land, only to find that they had in fact boarded a high speed roller coaster!

If you would like to see more of Sarah’s paintings or are interested in buying from her, please visit her website at:

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Community / Deaf Life

2nd March 2014