Over the coming weeks I’ll be talking with our talented and varied cast of Secret Severn Artists. This week, It’s the turn of Jenny Newall…..
Hello, Jenny, firstly could you please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?
Hi, I’m Jenny Newall and I’m a creative entrepreneur who enjoys transforming ideas and dreams into stained glass illustrations.
There is a high level of precision required to work with stained glass. Did you have to do much training?
I gained a Fine Art Degree at Loughborough University in 2008 but my love affair with glass began in 2010 with a beginner’s workshop with glass artist Maralyn O’keefe. It was Maralyn who encouraged me to create a living for myself as a glass artist. These past few years have been a lot of hard work, practice, devotion, plasters and hand cream. Practically speaking, when you work with glass, measurement is very important and repetition is needed to make sure you can be as accurate as possible. With practice and time you can cut the tiniest of pieces of glass and create such intricate designs.
What influences your material choices?
The challenge for a glass artist is sourcing glass for particular projects, especially restoration. I like to save old pieces of glass from broken windows and adore sea glass. I have a few drawers that are full of my glass ‘gem like’ finds. At the moment I am hugely influenced by textiles, printed patterns and the natural world and I am working on a few new collections. So watch this space!
Which piece of work are you most proud of?
This is a hard question to answer. All artworks are an extension of me and it’s hard to pick just one. I am one of those individuals, whose favourite colour can change on a daily basis too, depending on my mood (so this is a rotter of a question). I will say that I feel proud when I see someone smile because of something I have made – you get a real buzz and sense of achievement when your art has brought happiness to someone. To be a part of providing joy to others is a real privilege and makes my soul proud.
If you weren’t an artist what would you do?
Hmm…Perhaps a property developer, garden designer or archaeologist would be fun. Although I think I would enjoy being a writer/ blogger and would love to be a food or art critic. It would have to be creative whatever I did. I enjoy solution making and having the freedom to think creatively.
What would your dream commission be?
Creating an exhibition or collection of beautiful wildlife inspired art would make me very happy.
If you could time travel to observe a stained glass window being made, which one would it be?
Well, If I had the power to time travel then I wouldn’t want to observe a stained glass window being made. I would really love to be a ‘fly on the wall’ when the discovery of manganese dioxide meant that clear glass would be possible giving birth to the architectural glass we know and love today. I would like to see the look on that person’s face and see if they knew the enormity of what they had made? There are so many beautiful windows in the world it would be hard to choose, but this moment in history changed how we live.
Outside of work, What do you like to do?
Eat. Walk the dog. Explore unusual places, the more hidden parts of Britain. What can I say? I’m an old escapist and romantic at heart.
What advice would you give to your younger artist self?
Believe in yourself, trust your gut and for goodness sake use hand cream!
Finally, What are your plans for the future?
This year is very exciting; I’m launching a unique gallery with a friend and very talented print maker, Hazel McNab. I am developing my range of glass ‘room charms’ and this spring I have my very first Stained Glass Wedding. It involves doing a stained glass hen party, bespoke cake toppers and table centre pieces! So I am super excited to be asked to do this fun, memorable project. I am very lucky- my customers are the best!
Jenny’s work is on the Severn Severn Art Trail 5 – 7th May 2017. She will also be holding a Glass Bird Making Workshop on Sunday 7th May 2017. Visit our website www.secretsevern.co.uk. or www.facebook/secretsevern.co.uk for more details.