An Observant Eye; Jackie Gwyther at Chalk Gallery
Jackie Gwyther is one of the two Guest Artist painters exhibiting at Chalk Gallery until the 5th September. We take a closer look at her finely rendered oil paintings and find out more about the motivation and inspiration behind her portraiture, and observational studies of nature.
In the painting ‘Flowering Laurel’, Jackie became fascinated by the decorative shapes of the shadows cast by the leaves and the buds. The patterns of the shadows, the negative shapes and the light reflected by its shiny, green leaves intrigued her. Painted with impressive attention to detail the floral forms have an intensely life-like appeal.
The painting ‘Hope’ focuses on the bark of an aged, fallen tree near Ightham Mote. The bark has been sculpted by the rain and coloured by the sun so that it resembles tresses of flowing auburn hair. The magical otherworldly quality draws people‘s trust and from the darkness of its deep crevices, coins glint in the sunshine. Each coin holds a wish, a glimmer of hope in the darkness. A subject matter that will resonate poignantly for us all at this particular time.
Jackie tells us that her daily dog walks were of enormous comfort during the pandemic. Nature’s ability to continue its beautiful work, regardless of the uncertainties elsewhere, inspired ‘Spring Sky’. Looking up at the tree canopy, she marvelled at the translucency of the young spring beech leaves against the sky. The glow of the white aura around the leaves promised optimism and hope.
Jackie is also a keen portrait artist and takes commissions for paintings of people and animals. She was very proud to have her portrait of paramedic Chris included in the book ‘portraits for NHS Heroes’, curated by Tom Croft and published in November 2020. Through the power of portraiture Tom wanted to honour the hard work, courage and endurance of the NHS workers on the front line of the Covid pandemic. His call through social media to the global artistic community, via the #portraitsfornhsheroes Instagram page, resulted in over 13,000 contributions of free portraits. 300 were selected to feature in this moving and beautifully presented book.
Jackie has a new work of art on public display in the Shambles, a small square with its medieval roots in the heart of the old centre of Sevenoaks. Her painting is a doorway to the past: a life-size portrait of a young woman bringing her wares to market whilst carrying a lamb and a basket of goose eggs. This is the largest work she has completed and she found it an interesting challenge working on this scale with exterior wood paints rather than her trusted oils.
The word 'Shambles' is derived from shammel, the Anglo Saxon word for shelves, which were a prominent feature of open butcher shop fronts selling their produce. The site was a medieval market place and since then it has been the centre for many varied trades. Over twenty years
ago, Sevenoaks Council commissioned artists Juliet Simpson and Tom Cousins to create artwork depicting the medieval history of the Shambles. Juliet's wall sculptures and Tom's black and white murals have graced the area ever since. In 2020, Juliet reconditioned her sculptures and recruited other artists to transform the nondescript black doors backing onto the Shambles into works of art. With the involvement of Jackie and fellow artists, Melissa Hill and Franny Swann, and the support of Sevenoaks Council, this exciting plan is progressing. Background
Interestingly, Jackie’s fine art journey followed a career in scientific research. In 2010, She decided to convert her lifelong love of art, into a focused art education. An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Art and Design) from UCA Maidstone in 2011 led onto a Foundation Degree Arts with Distinction, from the University of Greenwich (K College) in 2013. Since graduating, she has continued to develop and hone her oil painting skills by attending technical courses at Heatherley's School of Fine Art and the Art Academy, through master classes with professional portrait artists and by participating in weekly life and portrait painting groups.
We are thrilled to be able to include Jackie's work in our current exhibition at Chalk. Her uniquely observant style is bound to resonate and form interesting connections within our varied collection of artists' work.