Kent Artist Profile: Jane Ford
The marshes of Sandwich are where wildlife artist Jane Ford finds her inspiration, and it’s no wonder. This delightful part of Kent is packed full of the most beautiful creatures – and they all find a place in the unusual and magical world of Jane Ford’s art.
How did you become an artist?
My father was a trained classical singer, so the arts were already in the family. My uncle was the head designer for Spode (pottery and homewares) and I went to art college in the Staffordshire Potteries, where I come from. I also did a seven-year apprenticeship as an illustrator and graphic designer.
If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do?
My aim is to incorporate realism with fantasy and as my passion is British wildlife; it is the perfect subject to work with. Many writers and artists have already done this, but, as fantasy is a very personal thing, the imagination can run riot and be very individual. I add a little romance, a dash of steampunk, and a huge amount of northern dark humour.
What is it about Kentish wildlife that appeals to you?
It’s not just Kentish wildlife, but British. Kent, though, has the unique geographics in that we have a lot of migrant birds, though I tend to use purely native creatures. Where I live we have three species of owl, hares (though they are dwindling) and of course foxes. There are game birds and predators – a new bird to the area is the red kite with its wonderful aerobatics.
You combine natural wildlife with some rather quirky elements. How do you choose what to use in each image?
Creating an image for a painting can come in several ways, either by the animal itself or by a phrase, song, or something that just pops into my head. I recently had an email from an artist friend in America, Kaidy Lewis. She was painting with glow worms in the garden and we decided it would be fun to paint together, me here, she there. My thoughts were moonlight, glow worms flying down to earth with stars, and an unlikely combination of romantic partners, a hare and a hound. The obvious title was from the Bette Davis film, Now Voyager – ‘Why wish for the moon when we have the stars?’
What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date?
My proudest achievement to date is to have become a professional artist against all the odds, when no one believed in me and the future looked bleak. To have exhibited in great galleries with great artists and to have formed very precious friendships. And to have a wonderful, supportive husband who puts up with all my quirky ideas and who runs around the country delivering work with me.
What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for you?
2017 right through to 2018 will be a very busy year with general exhibitions in many galleries, a solo feature exhibition with the Wing Gallery, Wadhurst, in September and another similar show with Opus Gallery, Ashbourne, in November. I have already exhibited a solo show this year at the Saffron Gallery, East Grinstead, and will be working towards an even busier schedule in 2018.