When sustainable farming centre FarmEd put out a call for artists with an interest in climate change and bio diversity, famous painter Pam Franklin knew is was the kickstart she had been waiting for.
Having previously exhibited her work in Bruton Street Gallery in London as well as numerous high brow exhibitions throughout the UK, her work often sold out.
But having put her work on hold, while dealing with the death of her parents and a house move she hadn’t found the necessary inspiration to restart her career, until now!
And as the environment is something Pam is passionate about, and living on Potato Town, an artists’ residence, creative space and home away on the Great Tew Estate, where nature abounds, the theme resonated deeply.
“making work for this exhibition was like standing on the edge of the pool and jumping in”
And so after a six year hiatus, Pam’s work is once more thriving againPam’s new journey began, the art that poured out, different to anything she had done before.
Icons, panels, boxes, triptychs, diptychs, she took inspiration not only from the countryside around her and her travels abroad, but on the extensive research she undertook on biodiversity and the world’s disappearing flora and fauna.
Her FarmEd show attracted the attention of Julie Wigg, owner of Darle and The Bear gallery in Woodstock, and a reconfigured and larger body of work ‘Earth Story‘ can now be seen there, surrounded by birdsong, poetry and films of swooping house martins.
The sense of discovery, exploration and wonder is evident as soon as you enter the exhibition space. Multi-faceted – boxes and panels once opened reveal the nature within.
Flowers, feathers, fruit, trees, meadows and sky all come alive under your gaze, revealing hidden depths, from endangered plants to the soil beneath and the life ensconced within, the inherent movement palpable.
“I was inspired by the drawers at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum full of shells, insects, rocks and treasures, and I’ve used that in Earth Story; the excitement of the unknown.
“People really connect with ‘Earth Story’ because we have a common language of concern for the planet”
“So the whole experience has been like an experiment, which is such a gift for an artist,” Pam says. “It was like standing on the edge of the pool and jumping in.”
“I was however armed full of information about trees and endangered species, female scientists, indigenous peoples, spirituality; all the things I reconnected with in lockdown,” she says.
Throw in her obsession with Renaissance paintings and icons, and it makes for a rich and densely layered body of work, her concern running throughout in the forms of ghostly plants on the red list (near extinction) or apricots no longer considered prolific enough.
As for people’s reactions to her work. Pam has been hugely energised by the public’s engagement with it. “People really connect with Earth Story because we have a common language of concern for the planet.
“And that’s been really lovely because life as an artist can be quite isolated and lonely,” she says.
But Pam has gone even further in Earth Story; rethinking the way her art can be displayed.
“My nieces live in shared houses and flats like so may young people these days, and can’t put art up on the walls, so by using diptychs and triptychs, the art is then portable and can be carried from place to place, much like the icons used to be when they were slung in a backpack and taken off on horseback,” she explains.
So has it been easy for Pam to return to making art? “I was full of self doubt and did wonder at times what I was doing, but the quality of the connection is what matters most, and that got my creative juices flowing,” she smiles.
“There is hope beyond the paralysis. we need to elevate the nature around us before we can move forward”
As for the message she hopes to evoke, Pam says: ‘”There is hope beyond the paralysis. We need to elevate the nature around us before we can move forward,” she says.
Pam Frankin’s Earth Story runs until Sunday June 18 at Darle and the Bear in Woodstock. For more information go to https://www.darleandthebear.co.uk/exhibitions/27-earth-story-pam-franklin/