This exhibition was at the Mount House Gallery in Marlborough. I went with OCA student Holly Woodward on March 26th, the final day.
I had been very keen to visit after seeing photographs and video on Jane’s Instagram account and I was not disappointed. There were 52 works on show, made from materials including pins, thread, concrete, resin, wax, steel fabric, plastic, foam, acrylic, gold leaf, linen, plaster, silk, wire, chrome and straw. That sounds like a lot but the effect was very unified and not at all overwhelming. Most works were either framed or presented in clear acrylic boxes. This did give the impression of taxonomy – of an organised presentation of biological specimens.
One of the highlights for both Holly and myself was Jane’s inspiration wall. We could get some idea of the variety of her inspirations and an insight into her creative process. You could track precise colours around the board. It was not restricted to 2d paper media either as she had included real life natural inspirations and 3d samples.
It was stunning to see how Jane uses pins in her work. To me, pins are an essential part of needlecraft and I would never have imagined how they could be used so successfully and vertically in such industrial quantities, separately from their normal horizontal role as a way to temporarily hold fabric pieces together. Jane used to work as a milliner, and still lectures in millinery, so I wonder if she used to look at pincushions and feel inspired.
The colour palette used was natural with both strong and delicate shades in evidence. I looked at some of the grids shown above and marvelled at both the geometry and the way I felt I was looking at lichens that might only flower rarely. Those lichen shades that popped up on the wall and in so many of the works, and the pinks and reds reminiscent of flowers. Some pieces reminded me of underwater life too, they brought limpets and sea-urchins to mind, especially the way that textile fibres were draped or hung. The attention to detail was amazing. The visitor book – a hand-made concertina book – included photographs and threads throughout the pages – making the book feel like an exhibit in its own right. I really loved that.
The contrasts in texture were clear, and even though the exhibits were under frames or acrylic, somehow my fingers filled in the blanks. I liked the scale of the work too – even the smaller works were so many times bigger than the nature on which they were based, it was like seeing huge 3d magnifications in pin-sharp (sorry) focus.
I took some photographs, I also took my daughter’s Instax to make some instant prints. Jane was happy for photographs to be taken. I gave her the first Instax that I took and was delighted by her response that she was going to stitch on it.
What will I bring from this to my work?
- an increased awareness of the benefits of attention to detail
- a resolve to take as much care in selecting and presenting my inspirations as the finished work
- an increased awareness of using familiar objects in unfamiliar ways
Many thanks to Holly for coming with me and for her inspiring comments and company, and of course to Jane for making us so welcome and talking to us about her work and experience.