The Academy is located in the South of Sweden (Skåne) in the beautiful coastal town of Simrishamn in the region of Österlen. This region is famous for its outstanding natural beauty and artistic tradition – having the highest density of working artists in Northern Europe. The landscape features amazing beaches with white sand and clear water, in many places reminiscent of the Mediterranean coast. The school is located just a few minutes from the beach, where it is possible to walk for hours in both directions, unhindered. In fact, there is an amazing footpath connected to Simrishamn called Skåneleden, which is actually over 1100 kilometers long! Walking north from Simrishamn, you will pass through beautiful Stenshuvud national park, and to the south, the ancient and mysterious monument of Ales Stenar and the charming city of Ystad.
Österlen is famous for its rolling hills, the intense yellow rapeseed fields in May, and its incredibly abundant apple orchards. Brösarps backar is another beautiful place nearby that must be visited, and a popular destination for our landscape painters. Skåne has its own climate zone, having short, mild winters and longer spring and fall seasons. Österlen is frequently called the Provence of Sweden, and really does feel more like mid-Europe than Sweden.
Simrishamn offers SARA and its students many benefits, including a close proximity to continental Europe and a lower cost of living than in larger cities. Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, is 1.5 hours away by train, the university city of Kristianstad is an hour away by bus, and closer still is the beautiful city of Ystad, just 40 minutes by train, from which you can take a short ferry ride to the continent.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, with its well connected international airport, is just under 2 hours by train. Copenhagen has a treasure trove of museums perfect for realistic art students. The Carlsberg Glyptotek hosts an enormous collection of sculptures (as well as fine paintings) and is an inspiring place to go to sketch. The National Gallery of Denmark’s collection of art is world-class, and The Hirschsprung Collection, housing masterpieces of Denmark’s golden age of painting (the 19th century), are just two more museums worth regular visits to gather inspiration and keep your artistic standards high.
Finally, students express that living here has unexpected positive aspects. They find the laid back lifestyle of the community results in less distraction, and therefore they have more time and energy to focus on their studies and personal work. Also, the fact that most live within short walking distance to the school means there is no commute, saving them time and eliminating stress.
“Beauty inspires Beauty”
It is an important part of SARA’s training philosophy that the environment, in which students learn and instructors teach, should be beautiful, inspiring, positive and uplifting. Naturally, this environment has a direct effect upon the work and attitudes of students and faculty.
The Teaching Schedule and Routine at SARA
The school is open from 08:00-20:00 Monday through Thursday. On Friday we might close at 17:00 or look at movies or sketch late into the night. Typically the school is open from 10:00-15:00 on Saturdays.
Each week, one of the SARA instructors is the official teacher-on-duty, and responsible for the regular training of all students. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the teacher-on-duty is assisted by a student teacher. The teacher is on duty between 8:00-12:00 and 13:00-17:00 Monday to Thursday. On Friday classes are held in a variety of different subjects with different teachers and usually the day ends at 16:00.
Students work on their individual projects (ie: cast drawings, still life paintings, etc.) each and every workday, but there are also special activities and programs throughout the week. An instructor reviews a beginning student’s work twice every day — once in the morning and once in the afternoon. More advanced students are reviewed everyday but are expected to be able to work more independently. The flexibility of the program allows for more reviews if needed, or less if the student is progressing well. The instructors are constantly observing and analyzing every student’s progress and adapting their instruction to best assist each student.
Hans-Peter Szameit and Sanna Tomac, are the founders of SARA and creators of its educational program. As Director and Artistic Director, their primary responsibility is to supervise each individual student’s development and training. They are also responsible for supervising the other faculty members of the school. Every other Friday Hans and Sanna meet with the teacher-on-duty as well as the instructor who will teach the upcoming week. At this meeting, each student’s work and progress is discussed and goals are set for the coming two week.
Language of Instruction and student body
Because SARA is an international school, English is the primary language of instruction. SARA’s highly specialized education attracts students from around the world and typically, 30 to 40% of students come from other countries. The student body consists of both amateurs as well as professionals seeking to improve their skills. Students of SARA intend to work in a variety of fields upon graduation including fine art (as portrait, figure, landscape and still-life painters), illustration, and concept art within the film and computer game industry.
After class Activities
Official classes usually end at 17:00 every day, but the fun does not stop there! The staff and students of SARA are very serious about their work, but that said, we also enjoy socializing and having parties! There is a volunteer student party committee that organizes parties and everyone contributes a bit of time and effort to make each party great. The school has a comfortable and cozy lounge area for students to relax and chat with each other during breaks from their work, and there are many opportunities throughout the week for students to get together after school.
Thursday evenings SARA hosts an open kroki, after which there is a “fika” (a little get-together with coffee and tea and something sweet to eat) so that students can socialize with the visiting guests.
On Friday nights the students often like to get together to sketch or to watch a movie projected on our giant screen, complete with stereo theatre surround sound in the figure drawing room. Bring your own snacks and there are a limited number of comfortable reclining lawn chairs so reserve yours early!
For many students, the school feels more like home than their own apartment and so they arrive early to have their breakfast here and only leave when it's bedtime.
The size of the student body is kept small, which allows the instructors to provide each student with the highest degree of individual attention and the students to get better acquainted with each other, forming close ties and friendships. In addition, the smaller size gives a personal and human scale to the organization – similar to a busy working studio. The student body is a melting pot of nationalities and ages. Students come to SARA from all over the world and from all kinds of artistic backgrounds. Some students may be professional painters and others may have come right out of high school. Many dream of becoming fine artists, while others seek careers in the film and gaming industry. All students work in relatively close proximity so that beginning and advanced students mix freely. The result is an atmosphere which is inspiring, encouraging, fun and supportive.