Clouds hang over their mirror image: reflections in the surface of a pool - or inland sea perhaps. Chasms fall away between vertiginous crags revealing glimpses of other-worldly expanse, punctuated with miniature, cinematic dioramas. Objects - boats, high-rise blocks, reflections and natural elements are suspended in the composition, as if in the subconscious state between sleep and wakefulness, an uncertain present between the past and the future. Like in a musical composition, islands of intensity sit amidst emptier oceans of calm.
Using images taken from photographs to components, building blocks and elements, Jane Ward first reduces images then digitally layers, manipulates and dilutes the image using chemicals applied to the printed surface.
Ward’s works play upon disorientation, conflicting with a sense of being anchored in one’s own person experience and the memory associated with it.
We talk to Second Floor artist in residence Jane Ward about her exhibition 'Watcher of the skies'.
The word print might mask the intricacy of your practice; please can you explain your process?
I travel to some place and explore by plane/car/train and on foot taking photographs, which are added to the archive stored on my laptop. I then layer and fragment them to make some sort of digital collage, I guess you could call it. I have the pieces printed and then - in most cases - work over the surface by hand, dissolving and manipulating the ink and sometimes adding pigments. I think it falls somewhere between painting and photography - mixed media? Sometimes I photograph my watercolour paintings and include them as a photographic layer before printing, which adds to the confusion… I usually try to get around this and refer to it as a work, or a piece!
How long does each work take?
It's quite a long process as you can see from my previous answer, so it’s difficult to calculate.
Sometimes a piece goes really quickly in the digital phase but not so once printed - and vice-versa – it usually takes weeks. I tend to have something on the go on the computer and a printed piece I'm working on by hand; then if one's driving me crazy, I can rest it and work on the other.
Do you start each piece with a clear goal in mind, or do they take shape as you work?
Often I do start with some sort of idea, but I usually find I just go with it if it wanders away and suggests something else. I can always try the idea in another piece rather than forcing it and losing a work I hadn't foreseen.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The natural world but also the built environment, just in the act of walking and looking. I remember saying to a friend how my work was of imaginary places, but she pointed out that I had been to them all and photographed them, which amused me. I guess their components exist, just not in the order I depict them. The work is very much about no place.
Do you purposefully convey a particular mood with different bodies of work?
Sometimes I'm asked to make an exhibition which veers more towards the land or the city for example, or a notion such as the utopian, so it can happen if this is the case, but I think the mood is tied in with the goal-in-mind question. I can be thinking about the time of day or year, which can influence colour, or it can depend on my travels. I recently spent 3 months with my head in the clouds watching mountain peaks disappear and reappear, turning from delicate lilacs to crimson reds, viewing our world upside down in the mirrored reflections of perfectly still lakes. I also had the good fortune to witness and capture on camera the amazing phenomenon and surely Nature’s most ultimate illusion: fata morgana.
We will be hosting a drinks reception with Jane Ward on Thursday 5th July, book in here. All works are available for purchase.