Vhcle Magazine Issue 15, Art – Painting
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Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m a figurative and portrait painter based in Brighton on the South Coast of England. Though I was born in the rolling green hills of Shropshire I’ve spent the last 20 years living a few minutes from the sea, and I feel its influence more as time goes on.

What is the inspiration behind your work?

There are no limits to what can be inspiring. In fact, now we’re hit with full on 24-hour rolling multi-media cultural over-stimulus from almost every direction. I think the trick is finding some way of filtering it all effectively so you don’t lose your own thread in all the extraneous noise! But then that in itself can be fuel… and the starting points into new work vary hugely. Often the narrative comes first, but sometimes it’s a more technical issue that sparks off the ideas. It can be as simple as a colour, and then a particular way of lighting my sitters, and the scenes that I’m imagining.
2014 also marks my 10th year as a full-time painter, and right now as I’m preparing for my 6th solo show, and my first in New York (Arcadia Contemporary June 2015), I feel like I’m drawing threads together from throughout that time. Symbols that emerged for one painting reappear and gather greater meaning when used in another context and with a different model, and because I work with a small group of regular models and friends, their characters also become an intrinsic part of my work.

What do you think is the artist's role in society?

It’s a great and eternally ponderable question, but to be honest I baulk at the notion that the artist should have any prescribed role in society at all - unless the artist chooses to have one! The impulse to create should be allowed to flow freely without the necessity of an external agenda. It’s that freedom that allows the artist to offer genuinely alternative ways to see, feel or make sense of the world around us.
What superpower would you want and why?

I used to have regular flying dreams which were extraordinary - especially when I first moved to Brighton. Incredibly vivid dreams exploring the city and its seafront, then flying out to sea and back, seeing the lights of the pier fade and reappear. Oh yes, I’d definitely take the power of flight!

Favorite drink?

A good day starts with strong coffee and ends with an ice cold dry white wine.
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Mary Jane’s passion for painting figures led to a series of successful solo shows and appearances in the prestigious BP Portrait Award in 2004, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Her work features on the covers of a number of recent novels, including New York Times bestselling author Tiffany Baker’s Gilly Salt Sisters and on Adam Ant’s recently released album, Adam Ant is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner's Daughter. Born in 1972 in the UK, she currently lives near the sea on the South Coast of England and is represented by Arcadia Contemporary in New York and Fairfax Gallery in the UK.