Thursday, September 11, 2008
Heather Jansch – Driftwood horses
Her husband, Scottish folk singer, Bert Jansch, has featured Heather in a number of his songs. She is an artist who make graceful and expressive and powerful sculptures from driftwood that express her lifelong passion for horses.
Trained as a painter and sculptor, she started using driftwood in her sculptures when she ran out of the material that she had been using — wire — and saw a piece of wood in the shape of a horse’s torso.
Heather was born in Essex in 1948. She studdied fine art at Walthamstow and Goldsmiths College in London. An abiding passion for horses and drawing is rooted in childhood when she was fascinated by Da Vincis drawings and her first horse sculpture, a large relief, was made for here art A level after seeing The Elgin Marbles. It was her passion for horses which led her to buy a hill farm in Wales where she spent several years breeding Welsh Cobs and, following in the Stubbs tadition, established herself as a successfull painter, a period she describes as her apprenticeship.
She moved to Devon in 1980 and took a sabbatical from commissioned work; here increasingly vibrant paintings began to include nudes and showed her to be a brilliant colourist. Eventually however, wanting to sculpt again, she returned to her roots the horse.
The earliest pieces of wire and plaster owed something to Giacomette, the following series in Copper wire reminiscent of Da Vinci's drawings and much closer to her heart still did not have the unique quality she was seeking. It took the use of driftwood to finally reveal the explosive power, natural grace and potential violence of her subject in a manner, which gives her work its authenticity, its "horseness". It was time to look for a gallery which could properly present her work.
In 1988 she joined Courcoux and Courcoux then of Salisbury as one of their "Horse Artists". The public response to these pieces was immediate and her first solo show with them quickly established her as one of the most popular new talents to emerge on the British sculpture scene. Heathers work gained mor impetus in 1988 when she produced her first life-sized pieces for her solo show Saltram House a National Trust property in Devon.
In 1999 she was invited to Jion one of the most important exhibitions of British Sculptre ever to be mounted, "The Shape of the Century - One Hundred Year of British Sculpture" as part of the millennium celebration alongside such luminaries as Moore, Hepworth, Frink and Caro at Canery Wharf London which placed her firmly on an international platform.
Jansch's driftwood horses once again proved to be amongst the most popular exhibits. The resultant publicity led to Channel Four featuring her work on Collectors Lot and to The Eden Project inviting her to become one of their Artists in Residence.
She now casts many of her works in bronze.
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