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needles and pins

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.

In response to the request, on my last blog, for more insight into the work of level 3 painting students, I would like to talk a little about student Jane Hordern and her work, which combines several themes.
One theme is her memories of her own wartime childhood. She is not making work about memory or reminiscence explicitly, in fact she is working hard to avoid ‘vintage chic’ but rather is looking at exploring ideas around safety, happiness, pleasure which her own happy childhood gave her. There is an understanding implicit in the work though that her childhood years (1939 onwards) were some of the most painful and traumatic in recent history. How these two different perspectives sit together in the work is one of the paradigms under consideration.

Jane has also organised a mini residency at a dressmaker’s workshop which has resulted in a very productive sketchbook and lots of source photography. She has taken these images back to her studio and started to play around with the forms and rhythms of the tools and equipment in the workshop.
Jane has an affinity with minimalism and tends to arrange things exquisitely. She seems to have a feeling for movement and rhythm within forms and composition. Much of her work is almost monochrome and collaged, but I am using illustrations here mostly from her work using safety pins which is painted and more gestural. There is work to be done in terms of understanding these two sides to Jane’s practice and how they can work together. Do they complement each other, or can they be combined? Her work with corsetry, also illustrated, begins to address this.

Jane’s process seems to be about largely paring down and placing forms with great sensitivity. In paint that shifts and the illusory depth encourages a little more chaos and chance. She is approaching the end of her course, currently working on her last assignment, so it will be interesting to see what sense she makes of these potential contradictions.

Posted by author: Emma Drye
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13 thoughts on “needles and pins

  • Such a feeling of movement , and I think the colour adds to the sense of personal connection , it invites you into the picture. something you could look at for a long time . Ann

  • Thank you Emma for posting this, and Jane for allowing us to see it. I find it very inspiring to see level 3 work in progress. It makes me look forward to creating my own body of work around a single theme.
    Jane you work is both beautiful and a bit melancholy – it has a way of both leading the eye gently and allowing to be rested at the same time…which I think in part is how the mind feels when it drifts back to long ago memories. The colour palette seems to hold the whole series together as ‘memory’, but you have created a wonderful variety of marks across these different paintings, which give me the sensation of different qualities to the memories. Thank you for sharing and best of luck with your final project.
    Emma – thank you for highlighting some of the elements of Jane’s ‘voice’. (Minimalism, movement, rhythm, paring down and placing forms with great sensitivity, but also introducing a little chaos and chance). I’m at a point on my own journey that I am struggling with defining my own voice, and I find it helps when other people look at my work, as they often see the elements of personal ‘handwriting’ more clearly. As a student I really appreciate that that kind of feedback so that I can focus on developing those elements more. Its also helpful to see how other students voices are developing, as a way of questioning and understanding our own artistic choices.
    all round a great post – thank you both!
    (more like this please 🙂 )

  • The colours work well. There is an icy coldness and a feeling of violence with the black. This is offset by the hint of warmth coming in from the left each time. I wonder if this is significant?

  • Your paintings are marvellous! In the first and third, to me there seem to be things going on – figures – below the surface. Is this what you meant?

  • Thank you for all these kind words – I can’t begin to describe what an ego boost this unexpected exposure has been for me. The nature of distance learning means that we do much of our work in isolation and so have little idea of how this will ultimately be received.
    I have to admit that your, and Emma’s, comments have highlighted aspects of my work which I had never previously thought about. I guess that it is inevitable that things filter through from one’s sub-concious.

    • I understand what you are saying Jane, and I know that you don’t enjoy using the internet, but in fact there are lots of opportunities to get feedback on this site and the student site. I think as well the monthly crit group that you attend online with my other level 3s gives you a chance for constructive criticism. Maybe this will inspire you to give the world wide web another chance!!

  • You’re absolutely right Emma, and when I have put my toe in the water it has been enormously helpful as well as quite a revelation. You have to admit I’ve made great strides – Just don’t rush me !!

    • Your own work has some similarities Pabi; sensitivity to the material properties of what you are working with and an interest in narrative.

  • Very impressed. What are the titles of your paintings,Jane?
    I know what you mean about the 40s also(my experience from 1944)-it was traumaticfor years…..I realise this only now.

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