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Category: Featured Artists
In Peckham’s Bellenden Road there is a Komoco Dragon pebble mosaic, designed by local sculptor Jane Higginbottom, [see image left, and http://www.contactarts.co.uk/projects.html], who has recently been awarded £95,000 of Lottery Funding for the Heart Garden, Art in the Park Project in Burgess Park [see http://www.artinthepark.co.uk/]. She now works one day a week there as Project Manager for Gardening and Art. How did she first become interested in sculpture? I went to talk to her at her tranquil studio just off the Old Kent Road.Born near Macclesfield, fond of drawing as a child, Jane studied at Camberwell, spent a year in Milan, then worked painting sets at Covent Garden.“It was fun painting on a 60 foot canvas on the floor – painting with brooms.But it was stressful working in that environment – there were always deadlines and few weekends off.My progression towards sculpture was gradual. First I was doing lots of pictures of stones and stone objects in the middle of the landscape, such as standing stones. Then I visited Yorkshire Sculpture Park and saw Barbara Hepworth’s work. Shortly afterwards I saw a course advertised at Morley College and enrolled. From then on I was really hooked.I respond to the stone. I start work straight into the stone, rough it out, remove stone quickly to give a working shape, get rid of excess stone, using a mallet and point, then move on to a claw chisel and shape the stone more tightly.After a few days I can see a bit I want to get rid of and the shape gradually emerges. Usually I work on two or three pieces at the same time. It’s like a dialogue with the stone, with something that has its own energy, whereas with painting you’re building up from a blank canvas.”What stone do you use?“Not sandstone, because there’s too much dust and you need proper masks and extractor fans. Not harder stones like granite, because there’s too much vibration, too much impact on the bones. I like soapstones: you can get a high polish and lovely colours. And alabaster. And Portland and Purbeck limestone. In 2005 the ‘Discerning Eye’ was bought by the Mall galleries and from that time on I’ve spent 80% of my time on sculpture – maybe just doing one painting a year. I think there’s a spiritual quality about sculpture, and I can be more abstract and personal than I could be with painting.In the series ‘Touching forms’, for example, I was thinking about the idea of relationships. How people are separate but also have a joint identity. The two forms appear to come together and move apart.”Jane herself enjoys working collaboratively. She’s on the Cambridgeshire and Essex Arts register and was commissioned to make a work in the courtyard of a hospital in Milton Keynes for MK Arts. “It’s called ‘The Family Treeo’ [the children’s choice of title!] and consists of three figures, a mother, a father and a child. For that I worked with Year 9 and 10 pupils from the Radcliffe School and it was officially opened in June 2008. I’m also helping an Infant and Nursery School in Braintree to design mosaics and a bench for their new school garden.”Whether they’re in Peckham or Milton Keynes, Burgess Park or Braintree, Jane Higginbottom’s works are a feast for the eyes. You can see examples of her striking sculptures at http://www.contactarts.co.uk/cv.html, but their tactile beauty is best experienced first-hand! Find more about Jane's work here>


Posted: 2009-01-16 00:11:00