Approved: 16.08.2006

Jan Blake

Artist, Lecturer / academic, Maker, Project manager, Teacher

Approved: 16.08.2006

Jan Blake's work is imbued with a fascination for movement and the transformative powers of light.

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Artist Statement

Jan Blake's work is imbued with a fascination for movement and the transformative powers of light.

Influenced by her work as a theatre designer for dance and physical theatre in particular, she has developed these 'Aerial sculptures' for public spaces. The initial concepts and imagery for the majority of her work is taken from the natural world. She is drawn to the duality of beauty and violence inherent in nature: the tension created by light between sky and sea before a storm; a pod about to disperse its seeds and waves sucking and dragging pebbles and debris back into the sea. This duality is reflected in her smaller personal works (see The Three Graces). Journeys both real and imaginary are also a recurring theme.

The architectural space and the people that circulate around it daily, informs her initial thoughts like a 'script' for a play. This connection of the work to the building is vital to the success of her projects for public spaces.

The research for these public art projects is an integral and vital part of the process. This includes dialogue and presentation of ideas to members of an arts team for the commission.  All the aerial sculptures start as scale models that are then transformed into full scale works for public spaces. The finished piece is usually a collaboration between metalworkers, fabricators such as kite and sail makers, installers and sometimes glass makers. For many  years she has been using silk organza painted with procion dyes for the majority of her commissions and personal work. During recent years she has been exploring  cardboard  to create moving structures that appear almost transparent.

The influence of printmaking is evident in the marks she uses on the silk. The economy of line and form comes from a lifelong admiration of Japanese and African art and culture. This links well with her love of movement and illusion that draws directly from theatrical influences and experience of designing for dance.

A life changing course run by Jacques Lecoq in 1990 in Glasgow looking at the relationship between movement, space and sculptural form was a great influence :also following classes of Feldenkrais "Awareness through movement" regulary for the past 20 years.

 She trained as a specialist art teacher at Bath Academy of Art Corsham, Wilts and then taught in secondary schools for nine years before taking a post graduate course in Theatre Design at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. 1981 - Arts Council Award for Theatre Design. She spent a very successful twelve years working as a freelance designer for, drama, ballet, contemporary dance and opera in prestigious theatres internationally. Namely Flowers of the forest and Gallantries choreographed by David Bintley for Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet. In 1994 she moved to Bristol to spend more time on her own work and to evolve the work for public spaces.

She has taught throughout the UK and given talks about her work as an artist internationally.

Future projects include; Continuing personal research into new materials for use in hospitals and in her own personal work and open to further commissions and collaborations with other artists of different disciplines.

In 2015 she was invited by Creativity Works and Fresh Arts to work with  people recovering from mental illness and their carers in three museums in Bath culminating in an exhibition of their work in Bath Artists Studios Gallery. She welcomes other projects like this and is at present involved in working at the Children's Hospital in Bristol working on a slowly evolving project for a piece of land adjacent to the play area involving the children's work often with their parent or carer as well. This is part of the Wallace and Gromit appeal.


CV & Education

Qualifications and training 1999 - Web site course, four days, Media centre, University of the West of England, Bristol 1997 - Managing public arts, one day, South West Arts 1990 - Through Architecture into Theatrical Space with Jacques le Coq and Krigor Belekian, Glasgow, International Theatre Festival 1988 - Business course, one week, London Enterprise Agency (LENTA), London 1986 - Masterclass with Josef Svoboda, three weeks, Banff, Canada 1981 - Higher Diploma in Fine Art and Theatre Design, Slade School of Fine Art, London 1968 - Certificate of Education, Bath Academy of Art Solo exhibitions 1998 - Vital Evidence, The Old Courthouse, Bristol 1996 - From Theatre Space to Public Space, Yarrow Gallery, Oundle, Peterborough Group exhibitions 2011 - Genie at Inside Out Exhibition Jamaica Street Artists, Royal West of England Academy, Bristol 2010 - Orchard - Hidden Impact - Prints in the City, VealeWasborough windows, Bristol 1998 - Balancing the Scales, The Old Court House, Bristol Residencies 1996 - Snaps, residency and commission, Oundle School, Peterborough Public commissions 2011 - Gust, Radiotherapy dept. Clatterbridge Cancer Care, Aintree, Liverpool 2009 - Life- Boat - Collaborative work with Rob Olins, Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol 2007 - Emerald, Howard Holdings plc Greybrook House Entrance, London 2006 - Aquatic Circus, Drake Circus Shopping Centre, Plymouth 2005 - New Leaf, DEFRA (Department for the Environment, Fisheries and Rural Affairs), Atrium space, Nobel House, Smith's Square, London W1, UK 2005 - SHORELINE - Aerial Sculpture, St. Richard of Chichester Hospital, NHS Trust, New Diagnostic Unit waiting area 2004 - NEST - Aerial Sculpture/Mobile, Russell's Hall Hospital, Dudley, UK NHS trust, Entrance to the Mother and Child Unit 2003 - DISPERSAL - Aerial Sculpture/Mobile, Centrica plc, Atrium space at their headquarters in Windsor, UK 2003 - WAVE - Aerial Sculpture, Clementine Churchill Hospital, Sudbury UK, Main waiting area 2001 - Reflex and Abundance, two aerial sculptures, GlaxoSmithKline new headquarters, London, commissioned by International Art Consultants 2001 - Transit, aerial sculpture, Police Mutual Assurance Company, Lichfield, commissioned by Art Contact 2000 - Sails, Dover Harbour Cruise Terminal, commissioned by International Art Consultants 1999 - Birds of a Feather, South Mead Health Centre, Bristol, funded by Avon Health Authority 1999 - Blind Wave Aspect, Stockley Park, funded by Stockley Park Consortium 1998 - Energy, Centric Plc, Slough, commissioned by Gillian Dunn Art Consultancy 1997 - Drive, David Lloyd Sport Centre, Leeds, commissioned by Art Contact 1996 - Pool, Leisure Centre, Leamingoton Spa, funded by Warwick County Council and West Midlands Arts 1995 - Flight, Atrium, 99 Bishopsgate, London, funded by Hammerson Plc 1995 - Landing, Atrium 83 Pall Mall, London, funded by JP Morgan Investment Company Ltd 1995 - Wish You Were Here, Hokusai, British Standards Institution, BSI 1992 - Two Silk Hangings, Reception, New London Bridge House, Commissioned by MEPC 1990 - Six silk hangings, Restaurant, The House of Windsor, commissioned by Moyal Bucknall Design 1990 - Three banners, Hotel Europa, Gatwick Airport, commissioned by Moya Bucknall Design Competitions, prizes and awards 2009 - Building Better Health Care Award for total art project with Willis Newson art consultants, Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol 1981 - Award for theatre design, Arts Council Educational experience - tertiary 1990 - Part-time Lecturer, Foundation and National Diploma, Graphic Design Department, Croydon School of Art and Design 1989 - Part-time Lecturer, Visual Communication, overseas medical students, The Royal Free Hospital 1982 - Part-time Lecturer, BA, Dance, Stage Design, The London School of Contemporary Dance