• Ingram Collection Purchase Prize exhibition, The Cello Factory, London, November 2019
  • Creekside Open 2019 selected by Sacha Craddock, APT Gallery, London
  • Serge/Surge, with Preston Street Union, Exeter, May
  • ‘Looking at You’ with Gedney Common, London, April
  • Subsidiary Projects, London – ‘Summer Will Have its Flies’, group show, January – February
  • Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018, South London Gallery, December – February
  • Gallery 98, Ramsgate, Christmas Open exhibition, December – January


  • Paper Cuts, Saatchi Gallery, London
  • RWA Open, Bristol, 6 October
  • Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018, part of Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool John Moores University
  • Exeter Phoenix, café gallery
  • Plymouth Art Weekender
  • OSR Project Space, Od Arts Festival, Somerset
  • Galleries R Us, Art Week Exeter
  • Oxfam Music shop, Art Week Exeter


  • Awesome art space, Exeter, Christmas exhibition
  • Rye Winter Salon, Rye Creative Centre
  • PIY Paintlounge, Sluice Biennial
  • Plymouth Art Weekender, Plymouth School of Creative Arts
  • Turps Banana Correspondence Course
  • Makers of the Multiverse – Juneau Projects/Spacex
  • Random Art Machine @PS45 Gallery with PSU
  • Art Auction, Thelma Hulbert Gallery

Previous exhibitions and projects

  • Residency at Porthmeor Studios, St Ives,  June 2016
  • With Preston Street Union, May 2016, Postcard exchange, bookmark performance
  • Group show at Exeter Library, Absence and Presence, prints, March 2016
  • Group show of work at Chapel House, Penzance, January 2016
  • Collider, group show, PZ Gallery, Penzance – December 2015
  • Member of Preston Street Union
  • Second Prize, Open Drawing exhibition, Plough Arts Centre, Torrington, 2015
  • Commissioned to design Visit Exmouth railway posters as part of Exmouth Festival, partners include: Arts Council England and First Great Western, 2015
  • Group show at Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, 2014
  • Group show at Gloss Gallery, Exeter, 2014

Awards, Courses, Education

  • 2018/19 a-n mentoring bursary with Rosalind Davis
  • 2018 Bloomberg New Contemporaries
  • 2016/19 Turps Banana Correspondence Course
  • 2017 Long-list Contemporary British Painting Prize
  • 2016 Porthmeor Studio, residency
  • 2016 Visual Arts South West mentoring programme (with PSU)
  • 2015 Newlyn School of Art, Mentoring Programme
  • 2014 Devon Artist Network/Open Studio Emerging Artist Award
  • 2014 Gane Trust award
  • 1991 Graduated Brighton College of Art


Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2018 at South London Gallery, by Artlyst here


My work questions societal concerns including patriarchy, power, gender and belonging. I explore these topics through portraits of real figures often in groups, inspired by characters from films, literature, family members and observed strangers.

In a series of paintings, exploring loss, displacement and denial I present a cast of figures within generalised beach settings that are largely barren and uninhabited. Some are in swimwear, lounging or standing alongside an elderly man wearing a top hat and a figure in a wheelchair. I use motifs that symbolise a particular emotion and private meaning in order to bring a personal connection to broader, topical issues. I aim to depict a generous, inclusive and empathetic view of humanity in my paintings. Sources of inspiration include the short stories of John Cheever, Burt Lancaster in The Swimmer (Frank and Eleanor Perry, 1968) and the films Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973) and The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog, 1974). These different sources engage me with their shared interest in exploring displacement and vulnerability through characters that are human, exposed and sympathetic.

Linking with these themes I have previously explored subjects that include leisure, friendships, celebrity and rivalry. With these paintings I aim to show simultaneous realities and narratives coexisting within a single presented scene through using different languages of depiction and forms of representation whilst primarily focussing on the human body.

‘Giving the canvas over to these figures…(Janet) foregrounds the importance of the body as a tool with which to explore complex issues employing abstract forms and colour to create charged and engaging group studies.’ (Charlotte Flint, Gedney Common exhibition, Looking at You, 2019)

In The Sphinx series I investigate the friendship between Samuel Beckett and Alberto Giacometti in the context of a Parisian brothel. My lack of familiarity with the setting other than through painters such as Degas or Toulouse-Lautrec, gave me freedom to imagine complex scenes of competition and angst from both the clients and workers perspective.

‘Janet Sainsbury spies on the indulgences and encounters between these great modernist thinkers, and surveys their proximity, their insecurities and their virile competition. Loose marks over the canvases give the imagined narrative room to unfold and make space for limbs to flail.’ (Bob Gelsthorpe, Od Arts Festival, 2018)

Alongside my oil paintings I create smaller works using acrylic paint on paper or wooden panels. Love Feeds the Soul explores images of romance and passion; referencing the film Fear Eats the Soul (Rainer Werner Fassbinder) and Hollywood on-screen kisses. Smokers are intimate portraits depicting different ways smoking has been used to create an image, particularly of glamour or authority. Pop celebrates pop music and pop fans; these small portraits reflect personal tastes and influences from the 1980/90’s. They were displayed in Oxfam Music Shop window during Art Week Exeter 2018.




























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