Janette Kerr is a painter deeply embedded in place. She works at the interface between land, sea and historical experience. She writes, ‘My paintings 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 writes: ‘My process of making paintings involves extremes and instabilities: peripheries and promontories – places of rapid change and shifts, both physically and meteorologically’.
Kerr is not somebody who makes meticulous studies of landscape. Beyond mere topography, but with a nod towards the Northern Romantic tradition in landscape painting, her practice remains contemporary and experimental. Her paint-splattered canvases evoke their subject so powerfully that the viewer becomes an active participant not only in her turbulent seascapes, but in the artistic process itself: action painting at its best.
For the last 10 years, her work has focussed on Shetland and the far north. She travels extensively - always to wild sea and weather-scoured places - sailing along the coast of Svalbard in the High Arctic on board a tall ship called the Antigua with a group of international artists. More recently she has been on an international residency in Skagastrond in NW Iceland.
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. She works all over the British Isles although she has a particular fondness for the Shetland Islands, where she lives part of the year in a little cottage. She also regularly paints abroad - whether while travelling on a three mast schooner off the coast of Svalbard, or attending an artist residency in Iceland.