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Bringing the outside in

Words by Jamie Crocker

What is the raison d’être for art in the home? The founder of The Jackson Foundation Gallery expounds upon this and his broader vision.

There are numerous reasons why people choose to embellish their rooms with pieces of art. While ‘art’, as such, seems to have found itself spread thinly across home interiors in the form of imitation prints designed to fill a gap, perhaps pleasing to the eye on an aesthetic level, there is something to be said about selecting even one piece of an artist’s original work to hang in our homes. By choosing it as our own, can it transcend its origins and become a representation of something else, achieving more meaning than that initially perceived by the original creator? The truth is that art is versatile and amazing in many ways and cannot be easily pigeon-holed, accruing value far beyond the initial brush stroke or first pour. It evokes emotions, it inspires, it makes you feel at home, it improves mental health – the list could be endless.

So rather than pontificate and theorise in a vacuum I asked one of Cornwall’s leading exponents, to extract an insider’s take on the value of purchasing a special piece of art for the home. It sits on a biographical backdrop of a lifetime spent creating and exploring the natural world. He is the unique Kurt Jackson. Hopefully, it will encourage you to think about what you really want your art purchase to be, rather than just a ‘pretty picture’ to fill a space.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, and how you became an artist.

I am a contemporary visual artist, a painter, sculptor and writer living and working in the far west of Cornwall, in a rural coastal setting immersed in the Cornish community and surrounded by my extended family. I am the product of an artists’ family, both parents were practicing artists although working in other disciplines. My father was part of that St Ives modernist school of the 50s and 60s – his artist contemporaries and friends being the first artists I was aware of. My life was and continues to be two threads of both natural science and art – one influences the other and I’ve married the two together in my career of 40 years or so. I studied zoology at university but chose art as my main path.

Take me through one of your more recent collections. Where do you draw your inspirations for your work?

The most recent body of work, just completed (and to be exhibited at the Jackson Foundation Gallery from late August), is the ‘Helford River’, a series of mixed media paintings, printmaking and ceramics of varying scale, capturing and celebrating the Helford watercourse – that beautiful tidal ria with all its tributaries and creeks between Gweek and the sea. This river divides the Lizard peninsula from the rest of Cornwall and passes through heavily wooded countryside. An amazingly biodiverse Atlantic rainforest of largely sessile oak, the trees touching the saltwater and mudflats. The river itself supports internationally important fisheries and water bird habitats. My intention was for the works to reflect the beauty and fragility, the history and culture, the topography and the changing seasonal dress of this place.

My creativity is fed and inspired by my firsthand immersion in nature, taking time and allowing for observation and experience, noticing detail and the particular shifts in diurnal, seasonal and tidal rhythms. The ‘Helford River’ will be exhibited from August 27th at the Jackson Foundation Gallery in St Just, West Cornwall.

From your perspective, what place does art have in the modern home? What is/what should be its ‘function’, if any?

I guess the art we choose to live with reflects our own tastes, attitudes, character and even politics. We may be more motivated by colour, form, subject, location or the artist themselves but ideally the art says “this is me, this is what I love”. Art can act as conversational pieces, thought-provoking, mood lifting and comfort. However, we know there’s a host of other reasons out there!

Tell me a bit about your own home and any personal collections you have on the walls, what do they mean to you? What do they add to your home?

Our own home has a combination of favourite pieces (some quite old now) made by family, friends, colleagues or people we respect alongside a constantly changing, revolving series of works by myself. Sometimes it’s good to live with a piece to judge its qualities; sometimes they are pieces that Caroline has chosen to keep, some are very personal to the family. Some become friends in themselves, associated with events, places, time and relationships.

With it in mind that art isn’t just for ‘the collectors’ as such, what do you think someone can achieve by bringing work such as yours into their home?

I would like to think people who live with my work appreciate the marks I make, the pallete, the texture and surface; with an intrigue and delight that survives and increases. The elements of nature, light, topography, place and mood are all bringers of emotion and thought; taking the outside in, the summer into winter, the day into night, the Cornwall into England or vice versa. We are very fortunate with the Jackson Foundation gallery, for anyone who was interested in buying one of my paintings or even just start a conversation about how the process works, or thinking about a purchase later down the line, to have gallery manager Zinzi Tucker leading a team who are extremely knowledgeable and perfectly placed to figure out via face to face meeting, telephone call or email conversation what a new or existing client is looking for in an artwork in terms of mood, colour, energy, size, budget and what will work in their space to find a perfect match of client and art.

What advice would you give to somebody who is just ‘starting out’ and buying art for the first time?

To start out finding art for the home think what are your interests, what catches your eye, who is the artist, what is the artist doing and why; how does that relate to you and your life? If there is a limit to budget or wall space or sideboard? Maybe look for smaller pieces, studies or print making. Try and find out about the artist, their career so far, their back catalogue; read up about them. But go with your gut instinct, what makes you feel good? You’re the one who’s going to live with it.


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