If you want to know about a city, you ask its inhabitants and those who work in it. We’ve gone one step further however. We’ve asked the talented Southwark-based artists who are exhibiting at our current exhibition – London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature, to explain how London and in particular, the Borough of Southwark, continually inspires them and their artistic endeavours and how visitors might tap into this important city of culture.
We caught up with Jane Higginbottom to hear about living and working in Southwark.
How does living or working in Southwark inspire your artworks?
I have lived in Southwark for 36 years, also having a studio in the borough for most of this time until I recently moved my workspace to Deptford. I studied at Camberwell art college and have also run community art and gardening projects in the area for organisations such as Art in the Park and Inspire Walworth.
Southwark has been integral to the development of my art practice and where I have lived most of my adult life. I am particularly interested in plants and Burgess Park is a particular place of research and somewhere I also collect materials. In addition, I’ve made site specific artworks in paper for an exhibition at Bell House, Dulwich.
I also am supported by South London Women artists. A lot of these artists are based on Southwark and it’s a great network to be part of.
What attraction or aspect of Southwark would you recommend to a visiting tourist?
There are so many things to see in Southwark especially for artists having Tate Britain in our borough. For people who don’t know London, I would recommend a visit to Dulwich Picture Gallery as they have very interesting exhibitions and the building itself is worth a visit (plus the cafe is great!).
Does the long history of the Borough have any legacy bearing on your work, given South of the River was always the haunt of the artistic community?
Working with Art in the Park, we have done several projects looking at the history of Southwark and in particular Walworth, such as Marking Places where we looked at three sites in Burgess Park and what had been on the sites before the park existed and then as a group designed markers for these sites.
With Inspire Walworth, we looked at the history of gardening in Walworth and we planted some of the plant varieties that would have been developed in Walworth nurseries.
How important, as an artist, is it to be in the capital?
It is hard to be an artist in the capital for economic reasons. Without new policies from the Mayor of London to help small businesses, I would not have a studio any more.
The advantages are the strong networks of artists to work with, such as the South London Women Artists and Second Floor Studios and the huge range of inspiring exhibitions which are easily accessible.
Do exhibitions such as London Bridge Hotel OPEN 3: Urban Nature help to publicize your work/help your artistic CV?
It is always good to be supported to exhibit and also to have additional publicity support. Every exhibition helps to reach a new audience.
What do you love most about what artworks you produce?
The artworks in this exhibition relate to my home street and are a record in time of that space. This makes them special to me. I was trying to see the street where I lived with fresh eyes as if I had never been there before but I think the length of time living there added an undercurrent of connection.
Jane has two pieces in the current exhibition, London Bridge Hotel OPEN3: Urban Nature:
Jane’s painting, Plane Trees with Street Lamp, is an oil and acrylic on canvas, measuring 45 cm x 35 cm – priced at £500.
Jane’s second piece is a sculpture – Simply Walk Home – Cotswold stone on a wooden base, measuring 50 cm x 25 cm x 10 cm. It’s priced at £900.
janehigginbottom.co.uk / T: @JaneHigginbotto / I: jane_higginbottom / email@example.com
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