IMG_m3193 Tucked away in a leafy corner of a large park is Moira Jarvis’ new studio. It’s one of six ‘potting sheds’ rented out to artists.

Is this your first ever studio?

Yes! I’m very privileged to have my own studio. Before that I had a room in the house, but it had a bed in it and was sometimes used as a guest room. Having a studio has allowed me to focus more sharply on my work. The experience of setting up a studio is very exciting – I painted the walls brilliant white to improve the light and friends gave me some old furniture and a jute rug. On the walls I’ve hung completed paintings and also drawings of trees and colour notes which I use for reference. From the studio I look straight out onto the trees and the sculptors who work outside. Working during the evening here is hugely enjoyable. We have to be out by 9 at night and don’t have 24-hour access, but I usually try to leave before it gets dark. The community of artists here is delightful and supportive.

How do you work?

I take my easel out into the grounds around the studio and sketch and paint and then finish off the works in the studio, where I’m not dependent on the weather. I usually stretch my own canvases but I have started to buy them made up for quickness. I also use graphite on cotton rag paper, but I work primarily in oils, and am very interested in colour mixing. I am currently using Poppy Oil as a mixing medium to give the paint a more lustrous look.

Do you only work in South London?

No. I also have a small barn in Normandy, in Suisse Normande, where there are lots of gnarled old pear trees – the history of the farmland goes back to Roman times.

What are you trying to capture in your paintings?

I’ve always been interested in landscape. I trained in Birmingham and then did an MA in Wimbledon - my series of MA paintings was based on a walk in Yorkshire and the limestone pavement. In November 2008 I had an exhibition of work completed in France, giving the feeling of the landscape and the history of the area. My aim is to record a ‘particular moment in time’ and convey the resonance of the landscape and its history. Rather than provide a detailed account of the landscape I’m trying to reach some sort of understanding of it and respond to it.


Why are you so interested in trees?
I’m seduced by them! I run life-drawing workshops and feel that there’s quite a lot of correlation between drawing figures and drawing trees – both are organic, and both are always moving and changing. There are similar problems to deal with and the basic structures are cylinders. Trees are always affected by the elements – such as the wind – and tend to be at the most wonderful angles – I’m interested in the way they grow.

Do you ever work on other subjects?

I did a series on quinces, and love experimenting with colours. In that series I mostly used vivid blues, burnt sienna and raw sienna, with touches of yellow ochre. I also worked with acid-dyed fleece which I layered to make felt. A totally different sort of commission was for a friend who wanted a CD cover based on the Orkney landscape.

Do you paint full-time?

No. I’m currently working part-time in art education as an artist/teacher. But moving into this studio has had a big impact on me in terms of having easy everyday access to the landscape and a private space to develop my ideas. I aim to spend more and more time here.PS You may like to read the review on the SLWA website of the Artdog Gallery exhibition which includes a reference to Moira’s work.  

Posted: 2009-05-31 12:10:00