The origin of my painting is landscape and seascape around the world, primarily Devon and Cornwall, England. However, as important as the original location is the narrative of the human condition that runs through all of my work. I start a painting referencing the chosen location, carefully designing the composition, then unconsciously at first, emerge emotions that are my life, or those of the world at the time – bravery, striving, passion, conflict, freedom, hope, light, integrity – and a dialogue begins to appear that I then brings to the painting consciously. My work is often described as ‘powerful’ – what you are seeing is a location but also my emotions and feelings in the world, at that moment; I hope it resonates with my audience.
When I began my ‘proper’ artistic journey in 2000, I wanted to paint. I did not know why I wanted to paint, I only knew I did. For as long as I can remember I have drawn, painted and made things, my late father influenced me hugely although he was no great artist (although he could have been); he knew the importance and enjoyed the experience of art.
I was a graphic designer then film maker for over twenty years, then I spent from 2000 to 2008 studying fine art and making work, but none of it was really painting. I made films, I had conversations, I wrote a bit, I played around a bit, I did collaborative stuff. What I wanted to know was – what did I need to say and, more importantly, why? I needed my own reason for doing it, other than to produce something attractive that people might like. The Arts and Ecology MA I completed in 2008 left me a bit of an anarchist, with a small a. I do have strong views about a lot of injustices in this world, namely my hatred of people who treat others, and this earth, so unkindly; this includes the corporate world.
I produced some art on serious subjects – the destruction of the UK dairy farming industry, (installation, film and conversation, Milked Dry, 2007); the equally destructive fishing of our waters that will deplete the oceans of fish for ever if we don’t do something, (installation and film, Fishy Business, 2010) and with food following and the exploitation of workers around the globe (dinner, installation and sound piece, An Antipodean Expedition, 2008).
The more I researched, the more upset I became and my art was not my friend anymore.
In 2010 I started to draw and paint but I was floundering. In 2013 I started to find a voice, and my narrative and reason for painting. I need my art to give me solace in my world – it is somewhere I retreat to and look forward to entering, it is a means of communicating that there is still beauty in the world, it is not all bad. I am fully aware of what is happening – but I try my best to give something lovely back to people who are my audience, but actually more importantly, to me! We don’t need to live with the horror every day. Joseph Beuys was instrumental in a way of communicating that I aspire to, he founded Social Sculpture. In my own small way – if I can influence a mood to be lighter, to encourage someone to look more wonderingly at the colour of the landscape and celebrate their place, and they pass that feeling on, then my job is done. Joseph Beuys talked of the butterfly theory – I can’t change the world any more than you can, but I can perhaps try to make it a bit better, a bit more joyful.
So, I hope you enjoy my work – the textures (rough and smooth), the colours (gloomy and bright), the underlying narrative (life is tough but also wonderful).
© Jane Hodgson, 2017
I feel lost in the great big world
“Art can be sympathetic to our fear of being lost in a complex world by making a smaller and more contained world that we can explore. … The desire to turn dangerous things in to toys isn’t trivial. It’s a way of taming the world – and it’s what art (among other things) does. It domesticates the wildness that might otherwise overwhelm us. By the simple, lovely trick of changing the scale, we make ourselves a bit bigger in relation to our problems”.
Only idiots like pretty, sweet things
” Beautiful flowers aren’t a way of avoiding the tougher facts; they are a consolation… the mood that beauty naturally encourages – is a good state of mind to be able to access, given the number of problems we have to face. A taste for pretty art isn’t a denial of the troubles of the world; it shows a wise awareness of the extent of suffering and a concern for bolstering oneself against despair”.
Unknown author of quotes at The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 2014
Barnett Newman, Joseph Beuys, Yoko Ono and David Hockney are among the artists who influence all that I do, every day.
“I hope that my painting has the impact of giving someone as it did me, the feeling of his own totality, of his separateness, of his own individuality, and at the same time of his connection to others, who are also separate… I think you can only feel others if you have some sense of your own being.”
Newman Barnett, Barnett Newman, Selected Writings and Interviews, California: University of California Press, 1990, p257-8