Janet Sainsbury: The Gift of Nearness

Sat 06 Jul 2024 - Sun 01 Sep 2024





Open Daily

Janet Sainsbury: The Gift of Nearness

Exeter Phoenix is pleased to present The Gift of Nearness a solo exhibition of recent paintings on canvas and paper by Exeter-based painter Janet Sainsbury.

Predominantly painting portraits of women artists and writers from the last century, Janet’s practice is driven by curiosity about the lives of others. She is fascinated by degrees of separation and, through her research, relishes uncovering fascinating links and connections between her subjects.

For this exhibition, an eclectic cast of characters are drawn from art history, literature and popular culture. They appear alongside several self-portraits made from photographs of Janet’s younger self, recently rediscovered in family albums, which weave in further layered ideas about identity, and our perceptions of the passage of time.

The exhibition’s title is lent from one of several included portraits of the modernist writer Katherine Mansfield, who’s work often explored class, power and sexuality. Other subjects include a range of extraordinary, radical women, many of whom worked at the forefront of modernist thinking. Artists and writers, curators and art collectors, actors and models, some had great success in their day (such as writer Shelagh Delaney, gallerist Peggy Guggenheim, photographer Lee Miller and artist Eileen Agar), while others were under-valued in their time, cast as secondary to their male counterparts, and lacked the wider recognition that they are, only more recently, starting to garner.

Among these remarkable women, also appear a handful of men. Poets, musicians, and actors, many lionised and feted for their creative ‘genius’ in their heyday, but also notable for their complicated personal lives and problematic relationships – particularly when viewed through a contemporary lens.

A new essay on Janet’s practice will accompany the exhibition, commissioned from writer, artist and researcher Lizzie Lloyd.


Exhibition Launch: Sat 06 July, 3–5pm, free.

Join the artist to celebrate the opening day of their new exhibition.

Artist’s Talk: Sat 31 August, 2.00pm, free (booking required).

Join the artist for an informal discussion and walk through the exhibition with Phoenix Gallery curator Matt Burrows.


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