Devon Open Studios 2009 was the start of an amazing year for me. I could not possibly have anticipated the response to my work – or where it would lead.
In 2006 I graduated as a mature student and, since 2008, have been making collaged portraits from found materials. My work is accessible and fun – I have always believed that if I like my work, there will be someone else out there who will like it too. This was confirmed in summer 2009 when I was awarded the People’s Vote prize in two separate open art exhibitions.
The choice of venue for Devon Open Studios 2009 – The Cafe in Topsham – was excellent for me. Apart from bringing friends and visitors on the Devon Open Studios trail, the successful cafe is busy all year round selling wonderful coffee, delicious home-made cakes and light lunches. Passing trade through the cafe brought many unexpected visitors to my art and I was delighted to sell two large pieces. On the very first day of Open Studios, one of the chance visitors was a retired council press officer who liked my work and offered to make contact with the BBC. An appearance on Spotlight followed, and I received coverage in the local and national press. In October, I appeared on the Alan Titchmarsh chat show.
Alan Titchmarsh was lovely, but no work resulted from it! I decided to visit the Affordable Art Fair in London to look for a London gallery where my work might fit. From this, I found a gallery to represent me and they have been selling my work at the AAFs in Brussels, London and New York. Singapore will follow this November.
My work continues to evolve. Last year I was making portraits, and still make a few. This year I am making Plastic Classics, re-working old masters such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa using found materials.
My work needs to be viewed in two ways – from a distance to make sense of the whole image, and close up to identify the materials used. The 3D nature of Van Gogh’s thickly applied paint which he squirted straight from the tube, and the thick brush strokes of Impressionist paintings, lend themselves perfectly to re-interpretation using found materials. I have made several versions of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – each one is unique, according to the materials found at the time. (Recently I discovered that Van Gogh painted 17 different versions of his Sunflowers in varying compositions and with different coloured backgrounds.)
Re-interpreting work by previous artists is nothing new. Centuries ago, artists learned their craft by re-working the paintings of their predecessors. Picasso famously re-interpreted works by many artists, creating 44 studies of Velasquez’ Las Meninas alone, in his unique style. Da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa has been famously re-worked countless times by artists including Marcel Duchamp who gave her a beard.
I don’t know how my work will evolve in the future – I only know that it will evolve somehow. I have ideas for a much bigger work but need to research venues and funding!
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- Jane Perkins – one year on (Devon Open Studios feature) - September 2, 2010