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Jane Sunbeam Residency Exhibition

Showing at The Print Room at LCB Depot
13th September – 27th October 2018

From April – August 2018 we welcomed the wonderful artist Jane Sunbeam to the LPW studio for an artist residency supported by The Balkanyi Trust.

Jane had the opportunity to work with a huge resource of copper etching places by the late artist Suzanne Balkanyi (1922 – 2005) which have been donated to LPW. She learnt a great deal from the study of these plates and used them to make new work. The residency aimed to raise Balkanyi’s profile and public engagement with her work, whilst encouraging and supporting an artist to make new work.

Jane Sunbeam’s Artist Residency Exhibition is showing alongside an exhibition of Balkanyi’s work at Leicester Print Workshop, entitled No-One Will Ever Know How Happy I’ve Been.

No-one Will Ever Know How Happy I Have Been – a wonderful exhibition title and quote which also perfectly describes my time during this residency. It has truly been a wonderful time, filled with laughter, learning, drawing practice, and opportunities to push myself and my work forward,” says Jane of the residency.

“The starting point for this residency was to create prints from observational drawings made at Leicester’s Market – and the finish point is where these have merged with my own love of storytelling within images, speckled with numerous influences and references to Suzanne Balkanyi’s work. When I began to study Suzanne and her work I had no idea of quite how entranced I would become, and how her work and mine would entwine. Her etchings drew me in over and over again, teaching me new things every time I looked.”

“Initially I looked at the everyday activity at Leicester Market; from the fruit and vegetable sellers, to the shoppers. But as I spent more time there and researched the history of the market in order to fully understand it, the more it became far more than a place to quickly visit and buy vegetables. By sitting and drawing the stalls, I became more than a customer – I learnt about marriages, love, friendships, sudoku and the real life of a market “dweller”. So I wanted my work to portray more than the everyday, to enable the viewer could see the market from this other perspective. Repetitive characters appeared (much like in Balkanyi’s own work), from the elderly lady shopping at the fabric stall, then visiting another day to buy flowers – people who are main “characters” in some prints become incidental ones in others.”

“Like in Balkanyi’s work, not all characters are people. The pigeons are frequent players on this stage, and they were ever present in the sketches I made – whether on top of buildings watching with interest or scrabbling for crumbs beneath me as I sketched. If you look carefully you will see at least one feathered friend in every print. Speaking of the sky, another, and possibly the oldest resident of the market is the Wyvern, who perches atop of the Corn Exchange in the centre of the market, and who has watched over the many changes that have happened over the years. Like the pigeons, he is a frequent occurrence in these prints, from inspiring fabric designs to being an item for sale on a stall.”

“A number of the prints have more personal references contained within them and The Stall of All Things Precious, the final print to be created is a thank you to the team at Leicester Print Workshop and all those who have supported me over the years, with each person offering an object that means something to them to be ‘sold’ on the stall so that everyone is represented. Even Suzanne Balkanyi has been thanked, with objects such as gondolas, lampshades and even an elephant appearing for sale.”

“The work for this exhibition comprises entirely of copper plate etchings; a technique that I hadn’t used for over 20 years and I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to revisit it again. I still have a lot to learn but I have loved working in this technique as the clarity of line and detail that can be achieved on the copper is astoundingly fine. So much so, that when I drew an image in pencil, and traced onto the copper I needed to allow twice the time to fill in all the miniscule details that even the finest pencil struggles to draw. To learn as much as possible, and to really push myself I wanted to work on many different scales as possible starting with filling the small plates with as much detail as possible, then gradually scaling up to make the large panorama The Changes I’ve Seen. “

“My thanks go to all the team at Leicester Print Workshop for this fabulous opportunity – for sharing their skills and knowledge, and for their ongoing encouragement and mentoring. And thanks in particular to Katy Goodrich who has been at my side during this residency – ever willing and present to work with the plates in the acid, to polish plates, put prints through the press and far more. And final thanks to Mr Sunbeam – who, as patient and helpful as ever is finally embodied in his very own print.”

- Jane Sunbeam, August 2018