Current Artist of
Every month, RESET// shines the spotlight on one artist and their practice.
Jane Pickersgill lives and works in London, with her studio based in Deptford. Having graduated with an MFA in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art in 2018, much of her work is informed by the long history of chronic deprivation, poor housing, and the gentrification of south London.
Jane's multidisciplinary approach is a result of a history with fashion design; utilising processes associated with textiles, she employs photography, drawing, and painting. Her practice is also concerned with the transformation of banal materials into desirable objects, and the ways in which contemporary culture fetishises these. Architectural edifice operates as a metaphor for aspiration and social mobility in her work. Her enquiries take in urban renewal, the allure of city life, its commodification, and the promise of transformation which it poses to a continual influx of newcomers.
Sculpture from Objects of Desire series
Since 2019, Jane has been engaged in an ongoing project titled Honouring my Grandmother …. Whilst Escaping her Legacy. The project both interrogates and celebrates the skills learnt from her maternal grandmother; Jane has been able to turn the moments she shared with her grandmother into the ability to earn a living in the creative fields, which Jane knows would have been unforeseen and unexpected for her grandmother. Pulling further inspiration from her grandmother's life, Jane has successfully pursued a career as an artist when her own grandmother's career goals were hindered by familial obligations and the domestic services that were often part of a woman's 'role'.
A Grain of Dirt ....Begat the Pearl - Letter to my Grandmother, 2019, 58 x 70 cm, diptych of paper, card, and stitched thread
A Grain of Dirt ....Begat the Pearl - Letter to my Grandmother refers to laundry day in Jane's grandmother’s home. On washday the white shirts and sheets would be pressed flat of creases using an iron heated on the large black ‘Kitchener’ which dominated the kitchen and comprised an open hearth with oven compartments and areas for cooking/heating on a grate above the coals. This surfaces on which the iron was warmed was dirty with coal dust as well as the ‘blacking‘ used to clean it of fats. The brown parcel paper used in this diptych signifies the same paper her grandmother used to place between the iron and the newly clean laundry, preventing the dirt from being transferred back onto the washed items. The diptych also recalls both a vernacular home, and super modern architectural silhouettes.
Process images from A Grain of Dirt ....Begat the Pearl - Letter to my Grandmother, 2019
Prior to this series, Jane created Façade, a body of work comprising of sculptural objects installed and arranged into an imaginary landscape. The series intentionally blurs the genres of still-life and landscape. The abstract sculptures are made from perspex, aluminium and steel, overlaid with a projection of images taken in and around the Canary Wharf financial district of London, where Jane participated in a residency in 2017. The location and depiction hold contradictory ideas of both utopia and dystopia since, in art, the depiction of the city can be a metaphor for dreams and aspirations of a new life. Underneath this dream however, are the challenges such as poverty and overcrowded and lonely living arrangements.
Jane observes that gentrification and over-development have gone hand in hand with the destruction of community neighbourhoods and the alienation of urban spaces. As a result of this work, Jane became interested in the growth of the ‘non-place’ in our cities, a concept put forward by anthropologist Marc Augé in his book of the same name, which discusses that generic spaces are a cause of a lack in a sense of belonging.
Transformed Façade, 2018, digital print
This body of work was transformed into another series which was included in her MA show, Telling a New Storey. This changed the sculptural installations shown in the images above into a tableaux, a ‘tower block’ of images presented behind promotional, 'real estate' perspex. The images used in Telling a New Storey possessed colours with higher contrasts which was achieved by using projected images which are then re-photographed and presented as colour negatives on transparent film. The result is one that alludes to stained glass windows, which have been historically used depict stories for those who could not read, and to also display the full power of faith in a god. Jane believes the great churches of London are now outshone by the precipitous monuments to the power of global capital.