During the past few months home has become a central focus for a lot of us, it has become a place of safety in uncertain times. For some, it has allowed us to stop and see things that once we overlooked or ignored. In this weeks interview Jan talks about the landscape that surrounds her home.
Are the themes/ideas for this project ongoing or are they new?
My local landscape has been an ongoing inspiration for many years, the woods, hills and fields that surround my home, and the wildlife within it, have become even more important to me over the last weeks and months of Lockdown. Nature on my doorstep was blossoming, blooming and proliferating while we were held back by anxiety and worry of what could or might happen, and the news bulletins which you didn’t want to hear but had to watch with unfolding horrors.
Home has been a safe place and a sanctuary just as it was for the glassmakers from Alsace Lorraine who fled from persecution in the 16th. century to this country and eventually to this small, quiet corner of Gloucestershire. My landscape was their landscape for the 50 or so years during which they set up a glassworks here. I wonder whether they loved this area as I do or were they so busy trying to settle in a foreign land, earn a living, feed their families, learn a foreign tongue just as the many who come to our shores today fleeing persecution and the troubles of the world.
Walking across the field where they once lived small glass fragments can be found. Also larger shards of pottery lie exposed by the plough, each autumn, tactile evidence of the work produced by the potters who came later to our area. Indications of slip trailed designs can be seen on these glazed pieces and by holding them, drawing and looking closely I have felt a connection to the fabric of their lives. So, how to combine my feelings for landscape, local history, the past and the present in a series of works has really evolved over the last 18 months.
What is your favourite part of the creative process ?
I enjoy all aspects of my work although it’s not always plain sailing. Starting with research on the glassmakers and potters, which has been fascinating, alongside taking photographs, drawing and note making, ideas started to develop in my sketchbook which gave me time to explore varied aspects of their story. There was also time to allow thoughts to simmer and generate. Collage and layers of design, revealing or obscuring, combining different elements, testing out ideas in paper, fabric and thread were all part of the journey but not always successful. Finding the right technique, materials and methods to develop the theme but also to be true to my own feelings for the work were paramount.
I became aware of the contrasting qualities between the fragility of glass and in Nature the delicacy of grasses and blossoms compared to the robustness of pottery and the natural elements of which it is made, clay, potash, silica and limestone. It became important for me to create my own vessels or containers, simple forms which are of today but reflecting influences of the past. How could I achieve this?
Ultimately as my work in Insights will show, experiments with organdie, papers and wires led me in one direction while heavy blotting paper gessoed, printed, painted and waxed took me in another. Where these two paths will lead and what lies ahead ,who knows, but I intend to continue exploring, experimenting and making. I am sure I am not alone when I say I feel I am always striving to achieve an elusive goal forever just out of reach. I suppose that is why we all keep creating and making.