North – art from Shetland and Svalbard

FOR many years Janette Kerr has been visiting Shetland to draw, paint and immerse herself in the environment and its history. In 2016 she sailed in a tall ship around the coast of Svalbard in the Norwegian High Arctic. The work from these visits forms the focus of North, the new exhibition at Sladers Yard at West Bay, from 10th March to 7th May.

Janette is a painter of the northern landscapes who enjoys being out in harsh weather and working in the landscape at its extremes. She says: “My work represents immediate responses to sound and silences within the landscape around me.”

With a lifetime fascination with the North, Janette had her   first residency in Shetland, the northernmost point of the British Isles, 200 miles north of Aberdeen and west of Bergen, Norway. Shetland’s rocky outcrops and dramatic weather struck a chord. In 2012 she bought a bothy and has spent part of her year there ever since, walking, drawing, painting, studying the history and producing work. She now lives part of the time in Somerset and part in Shetland.

In 2012 she also began her Extreme Wave Theory project with the Meteorological Institute and Marine Research Centre in Bergen. This is a collaborative project concerning the interface between art and science, drawing upon the historical and cultural linkage between Shetland and Norway.

Work from this project was at Sladers Yard in a two-person show entitled Wave Energy in spring 2013. Her Shetland work was in a group show, Radiance, in 2016/17, while she was on board a tall ship in the High Arctic sailing the coast of Svalbard as part of an artists’ expedition. The Arctic work in this show has been made in response to that experience.

The exhibition also includes work by the resident maker, award-winning Norwegian designer-craftsman Petter Southall. Petter’s family come from the fjords around Bergen and his furniture designs are inspired by the boats he made as a young man to designs that reach back to the Bronze Age. He combines traditional Norwegian boat-building and fine cabinet-making techniques to make designs with exquisite Scandinavian confidence and simplicity.

On Friday 20th April at 6.30pm, Janette Kerr will give an illustrated talk about her travels north and the work she has made in response. Afterwards there will be a Norwegian-themed buffet dinner. Book on 01308 459511.

Pictured: Janette Kerr’s Dancing Through the Skerries,  oil on canvas, and  Every Seventh Wave, graphite and pastel on cartridge paper.