Ellen Wynn

Watching 24-hour live media coverage of the 2010 Chilean miners’ rescue brought memories rushing back to fine artist Ellen Wynn.

Her father worked at Markham Colliery in Chesterfield when disaster struck the pit in 1973 and 18 of his colleagues lost their lives.

Footage of the Chilean rescue struck a chord with Ellen, who has been teaching at Hull School of Art and Design since 2004, and led her to develop theories about the idea of the spectacle in relation to disaster, rescue and her own artistic practice.

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Alongside her teaching practice in Critical and Theoretical Studies, Ellen practices fine art.

Ellen’s teaching has primarily centred on 3D design, graphics and architecture and she regularly attends lectures and exhibitions to update and extend her knowledge.

A fully trained architect, she practiced architecture before developing her interest in fine art.

Currently she is researching a follow-up to a 2002 one-woman show at Red Gallery, Inform.

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Inform 2 centres around TV coverage of the Chilean miners’ rescue.

For Inform, she combined newsprint and media imagery with everyday domestic items, thereby instilling the artworks with literal and figurative additional layers of meaning. At the time, Ellen said:

“By distorting or changing their expected context, household objects such as blankets, chairs and newspapers are transformed into works of art which aim to awaken an interest in the relevance of news in our routine lives and to question, even threaten, our domestic comfort zone.”

Now, she says:

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“Inform was partly a personal response to the media coverage of 9/11. Distant and ‘unlikely’ events create anxiety, fear and euphoria, which distort the core of our everyday reality”.

Poststructuralist and postmodernist theory runs through all of this work. Exploring the way events are mediated through our TV screens as an assumed reality is central to Inform 2.

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Craft in relation to fine art played and still plays a large role in her work. When she was young her mother worked from home as a milliner and curtain maker, and she taught Ellen to sew. The process of hand-stitching represents independence, comfort and control which form a strong juxtaposition with the subject matter she tackles.

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Inspired by her response to the Chilean miners’ rescue, she hopes to exhibit Inform 2 in 2015.

“This work will reference my early paintings,” Ellen says. “Using textile craft techniques to labour and ‘upholster’ the canvas and in particular to reference to the home environment, I will explore the status of craft in relation to painting and in particular the language of embroidery.”

Focusing chiefly on materialising painting as object, she plans to use the TV imagery that captured the collective consciousness during the rescue.

Ellen says:

“In relation to my role as a HE lecturer, I would like to enrich my teaching through my practice and to establish research interests in relation to my work.”

A larger range of Ellen’s work can be seen in her online gallery HERE:

Jayne Jones

In Hull, there is space in the cracks for art,” say Jayne Jones. “Here, people can show their initiative and create something.”

A visible influence on the city’s art scene, Jayne takes a two-pronged approach to her work. Personal practice and the politics of developing art provision from the ground up are of equal importance, says Jayne, a Theoretical Studies lecturer at Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD).

“If you come up with an idea, there is support,” she says. “You can get things done as an artist here.”

Extolling the benefits of artist-led initiatives at grass-roots level, Jayne was a founder member of Hull’s not-for-profit Red Gallery, with her MA exhibition opening the gallery. She is now heavily involved with the development of Kingston Art Group, a self-funded artistic community, and is also exploring the ways that lobbying organisations such as the National Federation of Artists’ Studio Providers can use studio networks as a means of unionisation for artists. She was also director of Flatpack Studio, an Arts Council and Hull Forward funded scheme looking to create purpose-built artists’ studios in Hull.

This forms Jayne’s major research interest.

“I am interested in studio development as a political issue and am involved in local negotiations with council planning departments to get artists’ studios built,” she says. “Through my research, I see lots of studios that have a real split between agendas and artists. With Kingston Art Group, for example, we have kept a very simple business model and we are self-supporting. I think we get there more sustainably.”

Since Jayne’s involvement with Kingston Art Group, the collective has grown and is now housed in two sites – an industrial studio in Wincolmlee and a studio in Hull’s vibrant arts quarter in the Fruit Market area of the city centre.

This focused, yet organic, approach is also evident in Jayne’s most recent exhibited works.

A hypnotic series of paintings that uses a mixture of industrial paints, oil pigments and resins to explore the seductive, sensual nature of paint, were shown in London, Manchester, Liverpool and New York.

These paintings are a sensual exploration of paint as a material,” she says. “I pour the mixture onto a horizontal canvas, then tilt it to allow the paint to move in a viscous flow across the surface.”

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As it dries, gravity, time and chemical processes altar the look of the material. The chemical paint mixture she uses was devised by Jayne following a research trip to meet the chemists at Hammerite’s industrial paint factory.

“Each element reacts to the others, as chemical processes cause them to repel, resulting in complex, unexpected surfaces,” says Jayne. “It is the unpredictable nature of this process that fascinates me, as I balance my own intentions with the action of the paint itself. When I return to the painting, the changes which have occurred provide the visual cue which prompts the next pour. It is a dynamic relationship.  

The results seem to replicate natural phenomena – fractals, cell structures, body shapes, glacial layers, or rock strata.

“Because I was exploring the seductive use of paint, I began to develop seductive paintings,” she says. “That was never my intention but it was part of the process of negotiating my influence on the paintings.”

Jayne’s work appeals to art-lovers on many levels – one of her paintings even hangs on an Atomic Kitten’s wall – but, as a full-time artist, she eventually felt the need to escape the commercial side of the art world.

As a result, she began teaching at HSAD in 2006, using her experiences of the realities of working as a full-time artist to inspire students and complement her teaching.

She has a BA (Hons) in Visual Studies from the University of Lincoln; and a practice-based MA in Art, Design and Critical Theory from HSAD. She continues to develop her own practice and is currently researching drawing and watercolour work. She also conducts freelance arts development work, partly inspired by a former career as an occupational therapist.

Visit Jayne’s website: http://www.jaynejonesart.co.uk/.