Under the spotlight….Jane Keeley

“It’s the ones I dream about that make it to the plinth.”

Jane in her lovely studio

Jane in her lovely studio

Do you have positive/negative memories of art when you were at school?

I didn’t stand out in art class at school because it was all about painting. At home, I spent all my pocket money on plasticine and built structures out of anything I could find- cardboard, cloth, nails.

Did you go on to further education in art or are you self-taught?

I studied Art and 3D Design at Brighton University in the 1990s, needing to get creative again after gaining a philosophy degree at Sussex University and working in social care.

What or who has inspired you over the years? 

People sitting, bending, walking, running, the wind whipping at them… I watch and sketch people, drawing them from memory if they spot me – on trains, out shopping, on the beach… I’m not a stalker, I’m an artist.

 What Artists do you admire?

The Kitchen Sink artists of the 1960s for making extraordinary paintings of ordinary scenes like the washing up waiting in the sink.

And the figurative sculpture of Kenneth Armitage, Nicola Hicks, George Segal, Juan Munoz, Thomas Houseago, Germaine Richier and, of course, Picasso.


Getting Started

Hands at work

What is your favourite piece of work (yours and someone else)?

My favourite things are sketchbooks. I’m fascinated by the thinking behind the finished work. Degree shows are great places to see what makes an artist tick. Pangolin Gallery in London and Goodwood Sculpture Park are also favourites of mine to see sculptors’ drawings and maquettes.

What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far? What are you proud to have achieved? 

Keeping up the momentum.

What have you sacrificed for your art?

I’m no hero. I’m very lucky to be a sculptor.

 What’s the best bit of advice that has been given to you?

My mentor, Teresa Martin, advised me to make the things which demand to be made. I have 19 books of sketches and 3D doodles which could be worked up into sculptures. It’s the ones I dream about that make it to the plinth.

What advice would you give to an aspiring artist/craftsperson?

The less time you have, the more intuitive the work. Work with determined bursts of energy and your art can’t fail to be vital.

Life drawing class (with Marcus Finch)

Life drawing class (with Marcus Finch)


How do you start a piece of work?

I’m ready to start modelling when an idea from my sketchbook meets an object (made or found) in my collection- for example a beautifully patinated spiral of metal and a drawing of figures striding uphill. Put them together and what have you got?




When is it finished?

I’ve finished a sculpture when it says what I want it to say. It isn’t about the amount of detail, but about there being nothing more to add that wouldn’t distract from the original idea.

Having said that, I give up my idea about what it is about once it’s on show- then it’s all about what it means to other people.

Do you have a mantra, quote or line from a song that best sums up what your art means to you?

As Paul Soldner said, ‘Make no demands, expect nothing, follow no absolute plan, be secure in change, learn to accept another solution and, finally, prefer to gamble on your own intuition’.

Does music help with your creativity?  If so what would you choose to listen to whilst working on a piece?

I find music distracting because it makes me want to dance. I tend to work with the chatter of voices from the radio or in silence. Otherwise I can’t hear what the sculpture wants me to do next.

Working on the movement in the skirt...

Working on the movement in the skirt…

What is your favourite medium to work with/in?

I like to model in soft materials which set hard, so that I can see the figures growing before my eyes. At the scale I work, I can make expressive figures with more movement (with arms outstretched for example) than by carving. I make moulds if I’m working with molten pewter.

Are you living your dream through your art or do you have one – what do you strive for?

At a Philip Jackson exhibition in a cathedral garden, I saw people so engrossed with his figures that they hadn’t noticed it raining. They bent over to look up into the faces of his stooped figures, held the sculptures’ hands and even lay on the ground to get an ant’s eye view. I hope that my work entrances people as much as that.

Is there anything you avoid with your art?

I eradicate all twee and classical associations, typical pitfalls of figure work which prevent it being modern.

Achieving that windswept look..

Achieving that windswept look..

Thank you so very much Jane it was an absolute pleasure to watch you work…. Entrancing, what an amazing talent….

https://www.facebook.com/sculptorjanekeeley http://janekeeley.wordpress.com/

About worthingart

Worthing Art is the invention of three artists/craftspeople living in Worthing, on the sunny south coast of England. Our aim is to create a central point of information about the visual arts in our local area. There is such a lot going on and so many creative people around here and we want to help spread the word through our Facebook page and this blog. We will also share national events and info if it's relevant. We are entirely non profit....we're in it fot the joy! We are: Lorraine Heaysman: Photographer. Marie Vickers: Mixed Media Artist/Printmaker and Textile Artist. Naomi Frances: Illustrator, Maker of Stained Glass, Mixed Media Artist.
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