The Susan-Williams Ellis foundation is privileged to have inherited much of her work when she passed away in 2017.
Sarah Nechamkin was born in 1917. She and Susan Williams-Ellis met as students at Chelsea School of Art during the 1930s, and remained friends throughout their lives. Sarah lived in Ibiza, where Susan and her husband Euan also spent much time.
Sarah was born in England, but her family was originally from Russia, and the two preceeding generations of her family were artists, so it was little surprise that Sarah chose to follow that path as well. She studied at Chelsea at the same time as Susan, and both were taught by greats such as Henry Moore, Robert Medley, Graham Sutherland and Ceri Richards. Later on, Sarah taught in Chelsea herself, helping many other artists in their careers. However, she preferred creating her own work to teaching, and from the early 1940s until 1965, she concentrated on graphic art, including illustrations for books and design work. She did a lot of work for the Curwen press, including patterned paper used by Penguin Books for book covers and music scores. She visited Ibiza in 1961, and soon after met her husband, Pepe Ballesteros who was a native of the island. The landscape and traditional architecture of Ibiza was an inspiration in her work, and from that time on, she was able to focus her energy on painting. Sarah tended to paint landscapes, very often with scattered villages or dwellings, and she would sometimes include figures in the landscape. She would also paint interior scenes, with plants, flowers, fruit, cats and figures. Most of her work focused on Ibiza, other parts of Spain and Morocco. The distinguishing characteristics of her work is the clear colours, the light, and the technique she perfected over the years of using egg tempera paint, which is translucent, to add layers of color on top of each other to create depth , shadow, light and form. The tone or her work is dream-like, and expresses the artist's ideas about an ideal of peace and beauty that she found in her subject. She and Susan shared this love of beautiful things, and were interested in many of the same subjects.
There have been exhibitions of Sarah's work from the 60s onwards in Wales, Ibiza, California and London. Her work can be found in private collections throughout Europe and North America and a number of her paintings are on display in rooms and cottages in Portmeirion. One of the lithographs "The Forum, Rome" is in the engravings department of the Tate Gallery in London. In 2006, a book by Sarah "Birds of Ibiza" (edited by Martin Davies) was published by Barbury press.