Even if Britain had lifted its Covid-19 international travel ban in time, Sarah Ball would still not have been able to accompany her work to Frieze New York this week.
That’s because in February the British painter — who is also an avid horticulturalist — took a serious tumble while tending to her vegetable garden at home in coastal Cornwall. She broke her ankle so badly that she had to have surgery and was getting around with a wheelchair as she recuperated. For a time she was barely able to make it into her studio, let alone fly across the Atlantic to attend her first solo exhibition at a major art fair.
“I had just managed to finish the work before I broke my ankle, which was amazing timing,” Ms. Ball, 56, said with a soft chuckle during a video interview, adding that she got some help varnishing the works before her surgery. “To be having a solo booth is terrifically exciting; I just wish I could go.”
But it’s a fairly safe bet that this will not be her last opportunity for accolades at an art fair. Though Ms. Ball has been an artist her entire life, international recognition for her intimate and intense portraits has come relatively recently. That’s in part thanks to signing last year with the Stephen Friedman Gallery, which represents prominent artists like Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley and Lisa Brice.