Francesca Blomfield, Archie Franks and Dale Lewis were selected from over 400 applicants to undertake a yearlong mentorship with three eminent UK painters: Phoebe Unwin, Jane Harris and Dan Coombs respectively. Each Fellow also received a £10,000 bursary to support the development of their work and ideas.
This is the third edition of the Jerwood Painting Fellowships, launched by Jerwood Charitable Foundation in 2010 to provide critical support for exceptional painters embarking on their professional careers. The works, which are showing for the first time, demonstrate a significant leap forward for each of the Fellows.
Francesca Blomfield’s latest series of works take limousine interiors, Tagliatelle, and human hair as the basis for experimenting with colour systems and painterly textures. Over the past year she has been incorporating text into her paintings, adding a narrative dimension, which she has also begun to supplement with accompanying text publications. Her mentor Phoebe Unwin discusses the past year: "During the Fellowship, Francesca and I have visited each other’s studios, seen shows together and met with Archie and Dale too. On every occasion there has been a lot of talking about painting: from technique and types of paint to overall concepts. I have seen Francesca experiment and take creative risks, as well as build on and refine her painting approach in very interesting ways. She has used chalky colour, pattern and dramatic changes in scale to explore her subjects of relics and notions of ‘authentic’ communication. Having got to know the work of all three Fellows, I anticipate an exhibition which is ambitious, diverse and spirited."
Archie Franks manipulates familiar motifs, from both the art historical past and contemporary life, to produce dreamlike paintings that give form to intangible and allusive sensations. As a result his works often exude a haunting, gothic feel, regardless of how elevated or commonplace the subject matter. He sees painting as an investigative process, and as a means of interrogating imagery to yield further complexity. His mentor Jane Harris shares her thoughts on the mentoring process: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with Archie this year. He has had a very productive and focused time exploring ways to expand his repertoire of imagery and experimenting in a variety of ways with paint handling, format and scale. In developing both his paintings and watercolours Archie has been creating compelling works of disquieting wit and atmosphere."
Drawing largely upon personal memories and associations, Dale Lewis’s large-scale works are both humorous and unsettling. Focusing on banal and under-represented aspects of life, the vigour and energy with which the works are made complement the rawness of the urban environments he depicts. “Over the past months Dale has released years of experience onto the canvas. The subjects he paints range from the tragic, the dramatic, the funny, the unnerving, to the stupid. The results are felt-out, funny, and real,” explains his mentor Dan Coombs. “The compositions distribute an energy through the figures and across the painting, yet there is another level of relationships between figures and their surroundings which is acutely observed and rings very true. It's this combination of force and subtlety that gives the paintings a convincing reality.”