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Exploring New Territories


A recent interest in mapping the landscape while walking, following a workshop with the artist Alison Lloyd, has developed into exploring the marks and detritus people unknowingly or carelessly leave behind.  This could be the shards of pottery and china dug up out of my garden over the last 17 years or thrown away items such as an old leather shoe, plastic bottle tops or a sawn chunk of wood with two nails in it found on walks in a small nature reserve in the city.  I seem to be drawn to the man-made and the mundane rather than the naturally found stones, sticks, leaves and feathers that are there in abundance.


The summer of 2018 has also ‘uncovered’ previously unknown prehistoric sites across the country, giving beautiful patterns and marks in the fields: parch marks.


My love of lines, all vaguely in parallel, hasn’t abated either.


These were my diverse starting points for the one week residency undertaken in The Observatory at Spudworks, in the village of Sway in the New Forest.  I wanted to develop new ideas to move my work in a new direction, into new territory.


Early drawings of an abandoned plant pot, with the stalks of some now unidentifiable plant wrapped in white plastic plant protectors and a roll of green plastic fencing were some of my starting points for mixed media work in a sketchbook.


Over the week, three themes developed:

Layers – hidden or covered layers, layers woven in and out, peeping from behind layers

Holes – pierced, cut, removed, or pretend holes as spots, dots and circles

Diagonals – slanted, slashed, leaning, toppling, colliding


Working in The Observatory was influential too – being in my own space allowed uninterrupted thoughts to flow, and the building itself – all angles and not a square corner to be found.  The New Forest area was also unknown to me before the residency and I spent some time walking in the forest, on the heathland and on the coast at Keyhaven marshes.  The unconscious and conscious memories of these places or territories will continue to influence my work.


September 2018


Janet Gilbert

Observatory Resident Artist at ArtSway

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