Inspired by landscape: Between the Lines at Studio Eleven

Published: Thursday 2nd March 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Studio Eleven is a gallery and workshop located down Hull’s newly renovated Humber Street.

It’s a space where ceramicists and artists can work, create and display their pieces. Due to reopen at the neighbouring number 12, Studio Eleven is now preparing to present a brand new exhibition.

“Between the Lines is the work of myself, a ceramic artist, and my late husband Geoff, a painter,” explains Jenny Morton.

The Yorkshire-born pair lived in California for ten years. It was at this time that they began responding to the striking landscape through their art.

“The main thing that people will take away from the show is that the work is very colourful,” Jenny reveals. “My ceramics are pale, with lots of stripes, and Geoff’s work is also full of colour.”

There are 16 small paintings of Geoff’s in total, accompanied by 20 pieces of ceramics of all sizes.

Studio Eleven was established in 2009. It was the brainchild of Rob Moore, a printmaker, and Adele Howitt, a ceramicist. Since then, the gallery has put on many interesting events and exhibitions.

“We’re currently in the process of moving next door,” says Clare Holdstock, Gallery Assistant. “The new studio will have a kiln room, making it a completely self-contained creative space.”

The title of the exhibition, Between the Lines, has several origins.

First of all, it refers to the stunning stripes that feature on Jenny’s vibrant ceramics: “These are inspired by the landscape of the Pajaro Valley where we lived. It’s a very agricultural place, set between the mountains and the sea.”

“The fields were divided up into stripes of flowers, vegetables – it was the fruit basket of California,” she recalls.

The artist was lucky enough to see the sweeping scenery from the air, when her neighbour took her on a flight across the valley. It was then that Jenny captured some photographs and began to incorporate these designs into her work.

“Also, the area is an earthquake zone, and we did experience them whilst we lived there,” she exclaims.

“When you look at the land, you can see the strata that was angled and tipped up. The fault lines weren’t horizontal anymore, they were diagonal or even vertical.”

And so, Between the Lines also refers to them living in a seismic hazard zone.

Striated twisting Bowl

“Geoff’s work focuses on the precarious existence of the people who lived there,” she continues. “They were mostly immigrants. A lot of them illegal Mexican immigrants who worked in the fields. They were needed, but not wanted.”

Lots of Geoff’s paintings reflect how these individuals and families were stuck between the enemy lines and borders.

“They were just a short hop away from the Mexican border,” she expands.

“Meanwhile, many of them signed up for the military in order to get American citizenship. In fact, lots of them died in Iraq and Afghanistan and were awarded citizenship posthumously.”

Whilst this sad reality affected Jenny and Geoff during their time in the States, Jenny herself experienced the feeling of not belonging after Geoff passed away.

“We were living in California on Geoff’s visa. He had been awarded it due to his CV full of teaching and exhibiting experience.”

As his wife for 35 years, Jenny was also allowed to live and work there with him.

“However, as soon as Geoff died, I was told that I either had to get a visa in my own right, or leave the country. And so I chose to leave.”

She returned to her home county of Yorkshire and now lives near the sea in Bridlington: “It’s a bit different, but I feel at home here. And nobody can say that I don’t belong.”

You can see Between the Lines from Wednesday 8 to Saturday 25 March at Studio Eleven, Humber Street.

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Published: Thursday 2nd March 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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