The Arts

Artist of the month – Philippa Jacobs

Philippa Jacobs lived and worked for many years at North Stack, Holyhead Mountain and now lives and works in the mountains above Bala.  She trained at Epsom Art School, Kingston Art School and the Royal College of Art.  Her teacher and main influence was the Polish painter, Marian Kratochwil (1906-1991); also painter and colleague, Robert Knight (1937-2008); Dame Ethel Walker (1860-1951).

Philippa , whose current exhibition, “Diary of a Year and Other Thoughts” (“Dyddiadur Blwyddyn a Meddyliau Eraill”) is on at the Oriel Mon until 4th June (see What’s On page) says of her work:

After 25 years living at North Stack, Holyhead Mountain, I reluctantly moved inland to a cottage one thousand feet above Llandderfel, Bala.  The contrast of the sea and that special silvery light, to the “greenness” of a rural environment has been a challenge for me, both technically and emotionally.  Someone said to me that my work would change, and it certainly was a struggle initially to produce anything that I felt worth framing!  There was bound to be a period of confusion before a rhythm and fluidity could be achieved. However much we wish to create a world of our own making, we are influenced by our environment.

From sea (Rough Sea off Breakwater (Mor Garw ger y Moglawdd)

To mountains (Passing Snow Storm (Cawod Eira’n Mynd Heibio)

One of the main changes has been to paint more in the studio and less outside.  Indeed, it now feels less relevant to set up and directly paint a subject on the spot, even though it is so wonderful to be out and alone with nature. The change had already begun some time ago when I returned to places I had painted in France to find how “ordinary” reality appeared in relation to the idea it had inspired before that idea was applied to canvas.
Narcissus (Narsisws) and Hollyhocks (Hocys), right

Technically, colour is my main concern – to pass beyond the everyday reality into a luminous world.  But no painting works unless the composition is balanced and in this respect nothing has changed except that my thoughts on this process take far longer;  hence the desire to paint away from the subject.  There is also an introduction of more texture and a tendency to home in on detail, to find a symbolic world in the minutiae of nature – perhaps there is a link with surrealism here (see the two works in the sidebar).

So “gathering” rather than “taking” is the main change – gathering information that holds the potential for expressing an idea through the sifting and transformation that take place within the crucible of the studio.

Philippa Jacobs
Pen y braich studio, LLandderfel, Bala LL23 7PY
01678 530 413; website:; 01678 530 413

If you have enquiries about any of the works shown here, or would like to talk to Philippa about her work, use the contacts above.  She  is happy for anyone to visit her at her studio (pictured here), providing they ring first for an appointment.