Atlantic Edge is the first big solo sculpture exhibition by Jane Fremantle, offering works inspired by the Atlantic Coast at Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery from October 2-7 (free entry).
Jane says she is trying to explore the energy experienced at the meeting place of sea, sky and cliffs.
The Atlantic coast of Ireland is the vibrant and life-affirming inspiration. Jane is trying to communicate some of the ever-changing patterns, moods, dynamic shapes and textures that she has experienced while standing on the cliff edge. Jane, who works in her studio in Chilgrove, hand-carves stone, mainly alabaster, soapstone, and slate. Much of her time is spent learning how the material quality of stone can be balanced with her own ideas and inspirations. She enjoys exploring the different ways in which stone can be worked but also celebrating the natural stone surface.
“I was working as a teacher at Chichester Harbour Conservancy, down at Dell Quay, and I got to the stage where I wanted something for birthdays or Christmas that was not a thing, but some-thing to do. So I went on a short course at West Dean and found that I really loved stone. It was the medium that I found most enjoyable. It has got so many beautiful qualities.
“Some people like to start with a block, but I look for natural boulders. I like to look at what a stone is and what I would like to put into it. It is like a communication, a moving back and forth between the material qualities of the stone and what I want to bring to it.”
It is a three-way thing – the natural surface, the highly-finished surface and also Jane herself.
It’s a fascinating challenge.
“If you are working in clay, you can add and you can take away, but with stone it is always a subtractive process. Once it has gone, it has gone, and if something cracks, then you have got the fissure as well. I did the short course and then another short course and then another short course and I ended up on the graduate diploma. It was great. At West Dean I learnt to look completely differently at the world. Before, I didn’t value imperfection and mess and incompleteness and potential as much as I do now. Now I am looking at the world and can see the beauty which comes from imperfection.”
Such has been her journey to this exhibition.
“I have been going on holiday to the west coast of Ireland for years, and even before I did my art degree, I did drawings and sketches while I was there. It is the place closest to America. The Atlantic cable goes from there or did, and it is very dramatic, with the sea rolling in, this place where sky and sea and cliff all meet.
“And the energy there is extraordinary. You have got constant movement going on. I am not trying to reproduce the waves. If you want to see a wave, look at a wave, but what I am trying to do is to recreate the energy of the place, the movement… which isn’t easy, especially in stone!
“I have got the big room at the Oxmarket. It is at least three times the size and space of anywhere I have ever exhibited in before. It is quite a push for me. It is going to be interesting. I have done more work than I think I will need, but I have to.
“Sometimes I sell quite a few pieces, but even if I don’t, I still get people coming back later, wanting something for an anniversary or a birthday, wanting something that is unique, something that isn’t replicable from John Lewis. My pieces are not terribly expensive, but have got a unique feel to them.”