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Jenny Cowern

Review of Sea and Rocks: shore-line of Cumbria. Sheridan Russell Gallery.

 ‘Sandstone rocks worn by the tide, Slag cliff and iron boulders, Shifting beaches on the Cumbrian coast’ road the sub-title of Jenny Cowern’s solo exhibition at the Sheridan Russell Gallery, London June 15- July 3 1998. Showing large and colourful landscape felts and drawings.

 How fortunate for us feltmakers to have a Fine Arts painter, trained at the Royal College of Art, so dedicated to using felt as her medium.

 About half of the 34 exhibits wore felt works. Most of them beautifully framed behind glass. The framing itself was quite intriguing and very effective. The felt seemed to have boon slightly raised from the single backing mount, was given a wide border and a plain and simple wooden frame.

Jenny’s technique obviously included colour carding, layering, cutting and time spent on composing each design; felt made in the true tradition and with the skills of a painter.

 There was a series of eight felts entitled Sandstone Rock and Tide which could be compared to a pastel of the same title. I preferred the subtle colouring of the fibres to the pastel shades though the woolen texture added a quality of intriguing softness to these images, those wonderful foamy splashes surging and swirling upwards were immediately recognisable as coastal features.

 Pebbles wore shown as thought provoking, varying in size, surface patterning and importance generally. In the unframed hanging called Tidal Sandstone, the pebbles wore included as part of the scone, small and insignificant, yet colourful. Another smaller work showed large pebbles only, portraying each one with their individual surface designs, the texture of felt strangely softening the actual hardness of stone.

 Pebbles (large) featured an enlarged version; here with the addition of bold colours- a line-up of pebbles each one placed carefully to show decorative features to best advantage. I can remember the time spent beach combing for interesting pebbles, longing to be able to identify them somehow. Wore those the kind of pebbles that can be found on a Cumbrian coast, I wonder?

 A framed felt triptych ‘Sandstone and Sea’ depicted the three main elements of these coastal landscapes, separating out the features as found along the beach, almost a statement about life as we find it. Along the Cumbrian coast, you will quite simply find the sea, tidal beach and pebbles.


Meike Dalal Laurenson, IFA.



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