‘Sarah After Vermeer’
Sarah Gordy is an actress who has played characters in television, radio and stage plays. Sarah transcends type casting in so many ways creating characters who are original and exceptional. Her body of work goes far beyond playing ‘characters who have Downs Syndrome’ and her wit and charm, plus a determination to get it right however complex the language is, make her a performer who can make the audience believe she is whoever she says she is. I would work with Sarah any time.”
Lisa Evans, Playwright
Having heard about Sarah’s versatility as an actress I approached her to collaborate with me in reconstructing Vermeer’s encounters with his sitters. Sarah’s grace, charm and character were perfect to emulate Vermeer’s elegant studies; with a modern twist.
Vermeer’s images with their soft and graceful tones, subtle shadows and careful light show how significant lighting is to a strong image. Some people say that a Vermeer work shouts in soft shadows.
This description could also be applied to Sarah, in that by carrying herself so well and by speaking so eloquently she is able to show ‘the public’ that people with Down’s syndrome are so much more than an outdated stereotype.
By being herself she is making a very loud statement.
‘Within the history of western art, the door stands for an image of both physical and metaphysical transformation and the space of the doorway takes on a character of “in-betweenness” and functions as a subliminal invitation to participate in the narrative which unfolds within the depicted image.’
I liked the idea of Sarah as an actress being able to change herself, to walk through the door in the picture and to become another person, another character in her work, but also on another level, as a young lady with Down’s syndrome to change people’s views of her and her abilities.
From the starting point of ‘A Maid Asleep’, we carried on to some of the other Vermeer paintings where we had a lot of fun recreating some beautiful scenes.
Sarah Gordy MBE is an outstanding actress who happens to have Down’s syndrome.
Her most recent work is on the BBC1 drama the ‘A Word’.
In 2018 she performed at the National theatre in London, in the play ‘Jellyfish’. ‘Jellyfish’ was written specifically for her by the writer Ben Weatherill. www.sarahgordy.com
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Our daughter Billie-Jo was born in 1999 with Down’s syndrome. For the past 15 years I have been organising and curating a touring photographic exhibition called ‘Shifting Perspectives’ which is concerned with all aspects of Down’s syndrome.
The ‘Shifting Perspectives’ Exhibition has travelled worldwide and has gone on to challenge preconceived ideas about people with Down’s syndrome.
Before ‘Shifting Perspectives’ started there was little positive imagery surrounding Down’s syndrome. Many of the images would be of a medical or charity-based nature and it should be noted that even a few years before we started, images such as ours would neither have been made or seen………
You can see more of the work here: www.shiftingperspectives.org