Janette Kerr is a painter who, through her practice, has sought to imbed herself in land/seascapes, focusing on the heritage of an historical relationship with land and sea, as well as engaging with oceanographic language through open dialogues with Norwegian oceanographers studying the unpredictability of waves and wind.
‘My paintings’, writes Janette Kerr, ‘represent immediate responses to sound and silences within the landscape around me; they are about movement and the rhythms of sea and wind, swelling and breaking waves, the merging of spray with air, advancing rain and mist, glancing sunlight - elements that seem to be about something intangible.’
Called ‘the best painter of the sea in these islands’ by Brian Fallon, Chief Critic of the Irish Times, Kerr delights in foul weather. Drawn to the perimeters of land, her work is an index of edges and ledges, exposed headlands and wind-swept seas. She write: ‘My process of making paintings involves extremes and instabilities: peripheries and promontories – places of rapid change and shifts, both physically and meteorologically’.
Her relish for the physical process of painting can be felt in the quality of her brushstrokes, described by Fallon as ‘expressionist as an Abstract Expressionist’s; it is dynamic and suggestive and has an organic life of its own’.
For the last 10 years, her work has focussed on Shetland and the far north. Kerr is not somebody who makes meticulous studies of landscape. Charcoal drawings and small paintings made on-site become the basis for larger paintings and drawings and mixed media developed in the studio. Beyond mere topography, but with a nod towards the Northern Romantic tradition in landscape painting, her practice remains contemporary and experimental.
Kerr has a PhD in Fine Art; she is an Honorary Royal Scottish Academician, Past President of the Royal West of England Academy of Art, and Visiting Research Fellow in Fine Art, UWE Bristol. Exhibiting regularly across the UK and abroad, her work is held in national and international collections. She has worked on residencies in Somerset, Wales, Ireland, Shetland, and Norway, travelled on board a tall ship in High Arctic. She has curating high profile exhibitions.
She has a strong track record of initiating/working collaboratively, most recently making Confusing Shadow with Substance, a film and sound installation in Shetland, and a Creative Scotland funded project.