Janet Read is a painter, musician, and poet, who grew up near the shores of Lake Simcoe. The artist has sought the water’s edge ever since. Read was born and educated in Toronto. Her roots go back to the Ottawa Valley Irish, Belfast and county Wexford in Ireland. Perhaps this explains a fondness for fiddle music, poetry and the sea.
Residencies in Newfoundland and Ireland and travels in Norway, Iceland, and Scotland have allowed her continued access to the sea, leading to a lifetime investigation of water, as a metaphor for strength and fragility.
Exhibitions include commercial and public galleries, including the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, with a catalogue. Paintings can be found in public and private collections and internationally in Australia, England and the US.
I work from experience and memory. As Howard Hodgkin says, “in place of the beholder there is a rememberer.” Memory and experience are embodied in lived landscapes. Recent experience, traveling in the high Arctic in 2018, informs my current work over the past two years.
My paintings stem from a deep connection to place and immersion in the natural world. Christian Bernard Singer, curator, says, “Janet Read’s abstract works are like landscapes of consciousness that metaphorically interpret various states of being of the natural world.” Paint is applied spontaneously in a process of improvisation that is refined over the period of the painting process until the work is itself a metaphor. Oil, cold wax, multiple layers and scraping out and flinging paint mimic natural processes of wind, rain, cloud and light. Spatulas are the primary tools.
The natural world of the arctic is remote and unknown to most of us, even as Canadians. The high arctic landscape compells my imagination with its austerity, light, space, fragility and beauty.