Jane Bennett is a talented emerging artist specialising in print-making, based in Manchester. The thing that caught our collective eye about this Manchester-based 23-year-old Art And Design (then Drawing And Image Making) graduate (from University Of Central Lancashire, Preston), is her free-thinking approach to the creative process, her passion for trying out new things and experimenting, alongside the overall quality of her work which straddles mainstream and alternative lines. The artist currently holds a fellowship from nationally respected printmaking society ArtLab which enables her unlimited access to studio space where she can complete new projects and, it allows her to support new and post-graduate students. We chat to Jane about what fuels her drive to create.
“I thrive within stressful environments”
Jane’s enthusiasm is somewhat infectious, and her passion for art and the work of her peers is admirable. Her interest in the creative outpourings of fine artist Gottfried Helnwein (among others including installation artist Art And Design) has taken her around the world to cultural hotspots like Berlin and Israel to find new and diverse inspiration. “I went to see an opera where the staging was created by Helnwein in Israel,” she laughs, “it was worth the trip and I would do it again 1,000 times over, because I am that inspired by him,” she exclaims. “It’s important as an artist to read and travel to as many galleries as much as possible, to meet people and learn, because the more that you do that kind of thing, the less frightened you become of progressing further and doing more.”
While her current musical inspirations (particularly portrait work) include rock and electronic acts such as White Lies and Nine Inch Nails, Jane has always been most inspired by people and their experiences. She reflects on how triumph over adversity has been a core idea that has provided her with constant inspiration. “I have become a lot more confident as an artist through learning about people and how they have developed through experiences and how they have made something creative come from challenges that they’ve faced in life.
On advising other artists looking to try and navigate the ever-competitive (and incredibly pesky) arts industry, Jane says that it is important to look at all options available whether that be in London, or abroad, in order to get their name out further and thrive. “You need to have an idea and go for it, no matter what it is; never be afraid to talk to people no matter how ‘high up’ they are, because they will remember you for that.”
When it comes to reflecting on her own personal journey and how she has developed from starting out as an artist, she explains that for her, it’s always been essential to remain focused and passionate regardless of what others think. “I used to be incredibly shy when I first got started, but then as I got older I thought to myself, ‘I’m just going to go ahead and make each piece of work and as I do that I will learn from any mistakes that I make,” she explains. “The one thing I have learned to do, is not be precious about my work and move on to new bits rather than dwelling on what was wrong with stuff that I’ve done before.”
When talking specifically about projects that Jane has enjoyed over her career, she references her final degree project as it was (and still is), something extremely close to her heart. “That was born out of my experience working with people who have Alzheimers and dementia in the past (see here for additional information on helping someone with dementia); it was about fading memories and I wanted to capture that in a piece of work,” she says. “I found a photograph of myself and my mother; I wanted to create an installation around it and I started experimenting with paper, ink and screen-printing, for example.” From that point, Jane scanned the photograph, altered it on Adobe Photoshop, printed it on acetate and exposed it on to a screen, before printing it in seven different sections with two layers. Following that, she purchased some perspex (transparent plastic, FYI) rods, before drilling holes into a wall and placing rods inside with the paper sandwiched in-between those so that it floated in mid-air; there was a dark layer she had hand-painted and a printed layer on the front to allow for a clearer visual impact. “For that, there was no real image because all of the different parts were constantly moving – I wanted to create this representation of a memory and how fragmented it is and I chose that particular photo because I had no memory of it.”
Jane’s next artist opportunity will see her work on show internationally at Global Echo; a chance that came about through ArtLab. “I submitted my work to an exhibition that Echo were running and they took it, and so now my material is being shown in galleries around America, Australia and Europe alongside places in the UK, which is great!”
Jane obviously champions diversity and style within her work, and her positive attitude towards life certainly mimics her goals as an artist; to “try everything”. She reflects eagerly on her working style to conclude; “I specialise in a lot of ‘old-school’ etching and screen-print-based installation,” she adds. “I thrive within stressful environments – I have to have 1,001 things to do and if I don’t I end up going a bit mental! I must always be working.”
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