With a background in Fine Art Painting, Sarah trained for her MA at Chelsea College of Art, London & subsequently was awarded a Jr. Fellowship in Painting at The University of Wales, Cardiff. Since completing a full time practice led PhD at the University of Ulster, Belfast (funded by The Department for Employment and Learning) Sarah’s practice led research continues to investigate how painting is situated within codes of class and gender as they relate to questions of aesthetics in painting.

Sarah has been teaching Fine Art in Higher Education since 1991, and became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2007. Her extensive teaching experience includes working with students in higher education on BA. MA. & Doctorate programmes. She is currently the External Examiner for the MA & Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London.

Sarah has exhibited her work both nationally and internationally. In addition to leading the Painting Strand on the BA (Hons) Fine Art course at Leeds Arts University, Sarah is the level 6 Year Tutor. She also leads one of the University's four research clusters, Crossing Borders. The aim of the cluster is to support and explore national & international links and cross-disciplinary activity.

Brief Synopsis of Research: Aspirational Beauty

My research focus is on my practice as a painter with the intention of examining how this is situated within codes of class and gender as they relate to questions of aesthetics in painting. My doctorial research (2011) introduced the concept of Aspirational Beauty. The concept of Aspirational Beauty is to understand creative endeavours and practices that are outside of, or marginalized from established theoretical conventions and definitions. The concept of Aspirational Beauty is traced and articulated through a process of writing through multi disciplinary perspectives that incorporate and link painting, history, material culture, literature, sociology and fine art practice. Aspirational Beauty is, I argue, a creative resistance to conforming to socially inscribed ideals of respectability. My research considers Aspirational Beauty as a possible position in establishing aesthetic resistance to class shame.

Research Interests

  • The relationship between gendered working class identity and painting as a value-laden form of aesthetic practice
  • International survey exhibitions of contemporary painting since the 1980s
  • Life writing at the intersection of class and feminist politics

Recent Selected Exhibitions

2015   Catalytic Commoning, The Tetley, Leeds. Co-curated Mills, S. & Bernath, D.
2015   Models of Value, POOL: Group Exhibition, CGP London
2014   Tacit Knowledge, The Wall, Syracuse University, USA
2014   Labour Exchange, joint exhibition with Magali Nougarède at BayArts, Cardiff, Wales. Curated by Helen Sear
2013   A Fakes Progress, solo show, Crescent Arts, Scarborough, Yorkshire. Curator Stuart Cameron (A Fakes Progress was also exhibited in Belfast & Leeds 2012).
2013   Sculpture, Photography, and the Index, 41 Cooper Gallery, 41 Cooper Square,
New York, NY.
2013   One Way or Another 2, Aberdeen, Scotland.
2013   Classification, Leeds Arts University Gallery, Blenheim Walk, Leeds, (Curator)
2012   Local Imagination, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, USA
2011   Concretum, Dilston Grove. London

Recent Selected Conference Presentations & Public Talks

Taylor, S. 2016, Aspirational Beauty:... Painting Class. Higher Education Academies Annual Arts and Humanities conference: Inspire – sharing great practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and learning, Brighton.

Taylor, S. Paul, L. 2016, Making Research, Northern Film School Research Seminar Series. Artists talk and workshop in collaboration with Dr Lewis Paul from the Northern Film School.

Taylor, S. Paul, L. 2016, Opening event of Catalytic Commoning. Investigating the processes of design and the teaching of design, the event questions what is real and what is ‘common’ as a new approach to architecture making.

Taylor, S. 2015, Aspirational Beauty: Painting Class …the importance of personal narrative in painting. Paper presented: Teaching Painting, Whitworth Museum, Manchester.

Taylor, S. Nougarède, M. Sear, H. 2014, In conversation as part of the exhibition Labour Exchange, Bay Art, Cardiff.

Taylor, S. Cameron, S. 2013, A Fake’s Progress: In conversation, Scarborough Art Gallery Yorkshire.

Taylor, S. 2013, One Way or Another 2, Artists Talks, The Smart Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland.


Taylor, S, 2016, Aspirational Beauty: Painting Class ...the importance of personal narrative in painting. ed. Hartshorne I. Moloney, D. Quaife, M. Teaching Painting How Can Painting Be Taught in Art Schools? Black Dog, London.

Taylor, S. Paul, L. 2015, Catalytic Commoning, Mills, S. & Bernath, D. An exploration between film, architecture and the city.

Rowley, A, 2013, Aspirational Beauty, Taylor, S, Cameron, S, (ed.) A Fakes Progress, exhibition catalogue, Crescent Arts. Limited Signed Edition.

Taylor, S. Paul, L. 2018, Generational Experience, published in R, Lucas & G, Mair (eds), Sensory Urbanism Proceedings, The Flanêurs Press, 2008, p. 58.

Taylor, S, 1999, Wavy Line, Artists book. ISBN 1_874011_43_5 Edition 1000.

Recent Awards

2014   Arts Council of Wales for the exhibition Labour Exchange & Artists talk.
2013   Arts Council of England for the exhibition A Fake’s Progress
2013   SMART consultants, the North East’s leading Art Agency, for One Way or Another.
2007-10   DEL Postgraduate Scholarship for PhD.