Actually, what I’ve been doing is going to Texas to see art. They have plenty, in beautiful museum buildings. I got back from Dartington on Saturday and was off to Houston on Sunday, so didn’t  have a chance to sort out my social media for the show before I went.

Here’s some highlights:


A cabinet of curiosities/wunderkammer at the Houston Natural History Museum – where you can touch everything. Good dinosaurs and gems too.


Anish Kapoor at the sculpture garden of the Houston Museum of Fine Art – Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly, Rodin and others too


A Gee’s Bend quilt made from jeans in the Houston MFA


James Turrell’s light piece at Rice University in Houston – go at dusk for a light show


Nasher sculpture garden in Dallas. The Museum of Fine Art next door is a confusing building but has a good collection- including  an interesting gallery of Latin American work, and Mondrian’s work from all stages so you can see his development towards the grids. Also a Monet waterlilies painting  displayed so well, that as you sit on a sofa and look at it lit from above with daylight it really does look like a pond.


Kimble Museum Fort Worth. This is an amazing collection in exquisite buildings –  a perfect art gallery. That’s Caravaggio’s Card Sharps – yes, really and you can stand as close as you like. There is also Michaelangelo’s earliest known painting. worth going to Texas for this gallery alone. There are two other art museums nearby – the Modern, with big works by lots of famous contemporary artists – several galleries of work by Sean Scully I was pleased to see. The Amon Carter museum of American art was closed for restoration but had some greatest hits on display, such as a Remington cowboy picture and Georgia O’Keefe..


We went to Marfa, in West Texas. A long way from anywhere. Donald Judd set up here in the 1970s. The Chinati foundation shows his installations, and others by John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Carl Andre, Ilya Kabakov and others. We weren’t allowed to take photos. This is the outside of Judd’s ‘compound’ where he lived in Marfa.  The town has lots of private galleries, and a great art bookshop, where I found myself talking about Ian Hamilton Findlay which seemed to take me to a very different place. We didn’t go to see the ‘Prada’ piece – too far out of town.


The McNay gallery in San Antonio is a very interesting and eclectic collection ( really a set of collections). We were very impressed by the curating – I loved the idea of showing classic cars from the 1950s with Abstract Expressionist paintings.


Back in Houston we were at the Menil Foundation. No photos inside – so here’s outside.  The highlights are a great collection of surrealist pictures- famous Magrittes, Max Ernst, a high drawing by John Cage, African art, Yves Klein….


BUT: I’ve been waiting for over 30 years to visit the Rothko chapel – so when I arrive… it’s closed for restoration. I feel like those American tourists in Italy who arrive to find scaffolding all over famous landmarks. Maybe it’s best staying  in my imagination, anticipated.


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Dartstream video


I am not a video artist, but last summer I filmed the River Dart to my satisfaction, so I see this as a ‘found’ piece, like other things I collect. Even like a drawing of a tree from observation. There is a short version in the gallery. The full length video is on YouTube, complete with mid way ‘joggle’. Here’s the link: youtu.be/g4HQc8VDa2w. Or search Jenny Thorburn on YouTube.

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Installation of Being-with, making-with

This was installed on 7th and 8th March at Dartington Space Gallery, Totnes, Devon. It’s on until 1 May  2019. So, usual mad exhibition hanging- such hard work. But we got on with it, and it looks pretty good – all the more so as we only met once before to plan it.  Here’s some pictures:


My work – the DS series of pen and ink drawings are on the right wall, and Kaz Hawkin’s series of pigment paintings on the left. My flipbooks are stacked on the bench



This is by Nicky Cornwell


As is this – a river sonnet ( a photograph of an installation)


By Kaz Hawkins


The downstairs space, with Kaz’s work. My video is on the facing wall.


Pebbles by Kaz – these are made of clay with fragments of poems pressed into them. Laid out on a trestle table they were catching a lot of attention from passers by.


Also by Kaz these are  pigment pieces on paper, inspired by rocks on the North Devon coast


A framed ‘river nest’ by Judith Israel – collected from the Dart


An exquisite drawing of a ‘river nest’ by Judith


If you look in here there is a skillful piece of weaving by Judith




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Dartsticks flipbook

I’ve made a flipbook for the Dartington exhibition (and to sell, I hope). This is another of my forays into making artist books. It is a book using drawings of sticks – as you flip the pages it looks as if they are  moving as if floating away down the river. I’ve also put a word on each facing page to make a text piece.

This was new to me. I took as my model a ‘Powers of Ten’ flipbook by Charles and Ray Eames (go to the masters). I was daunted by the need to made a lot of very similar, but slightly different drawings. As ultimately this would be in an electronic format (for printing) I had no qualms about using Photoshop – starting with a photograph of the sticks I threw onto the river Dart. Using the layers (one stick on each layer) I could move them slightly each time. I then laid the images out as a book using Word. Mainly because I know how to use Word, but I don’t think it is very suitable for this sort of work and I need to learn a better programme. I found a printer who does short run cheap paperbacks – CLOC ltd, in Tottenham. https://www.clocbookprint.co.uk/ They did a proof copy for me in a couple of days – in the picture above – which I’m very pleased with. I shall order 10 to start with, and see how they go. I am slowly building up stocks of my self published books, with the idea I’ll eventually take them to shops and fairs.


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Working for next exhibition, Being-with, making-with

Jenny Thorburn Dartsticks transcribed.JPG

It’s full-on preparation and production now for my next exhibition, with Karen Hawkins, Nicky Cornwell and Judith Israel at Dartington Space Gallery (in Devon)https://artdotearth.org/space-gallery/ from 8 March to end of April. I’ve made a flipbook, currently at the printers, and I’m waiting anxiously for a proof to see if it actually works.

I’m basing my work on what I did on a course at Dartington last May. Which was throwing sticks in the river Dart. I have done a statement to explain this, but that is as ever some post-event rationalisation. I was trying to make ‘drawings’, marks? upon the water, to engage artistically with my environment in a non intrusive way. The river won.

By the way I’ve just realised the photo above is upsidedown. It’s a small drawing (using a photo – I didn’t do it real time) using Roberson Prout’s brown ink (I love) and home made oak gall ink which gives that lovely grainy effect, like runs in the silt of a river.

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The Bright Exhibition ending


So now it is over, everything packed up and going into store. I had a few sales and over 200 people came to see my work so I am pleased about that. I find exhibiting quite draining – so much socialising! and it blocks my art making for a while. However, a week has passed so I need to get back into the swing of making. For a while I will play around with some ideas and see what develops.

One thing I did in the show was buy pieces of acrylic, like the above and make simple assemblies, to catch the light and show colour mixing with overlays. I’m wondering now how to develop this – or just enjoy it as it is.

Yesterday I did something quite different –  a sketchbook workshop with Karen Stamper. I have made many sketchbooks myself, but it’s good to do something not too serious and pick up a few new ideas.  Who knows what might percolate out eventually?

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The Bright exhibition


I’ve been preparing for my exhibition’ the Bright’ on the Upstairs Gallery, starting 8 October until 20 October. I’ve made a flyer/artist statement/info sheet – trying to do it all on one sheet of A4 so I only have to handle that, and can get it printed properly in full colour by Instaprint.

I’m also tidying up the paintings so can be hung. They are all on canvas – no frames, hooray! I’m warning everyone that they are quite different to what I’ve exhibited before. They have a lot to do with patchworks, that I have made since I was in my teens, so I wonder if this is a more authentic expression of myself. Sets webpage

This is the most recently finished picture – called Sets, it is 120cm wide and 80cm high – perfect for over sofas, and the stairs in the gallery. You can see the edge of the light switch peeking out form behind for scale.

I’m also going to have some fun installing small sculptures using acrylic sheets and vintage interlocking construction toys (PlayPlex and Octogons). I’m going to make these in situ at the time – risky!

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GDPR Aargh!

I’ve been ignoring this, but have had a niggly feeling I need to do it – I do use a mailing list to tell people (mainly friends) about exhibitions, and I do have enquiries and sell art work, so I need people’s information to do that.

Anyhow, Etsy came to the rescue, with an email telling my I needed to do it for my Etsy shop,  and a support document I could actually understand and tailor to my purposes quite easily.

So I’ve put my policy on my website: http://www.jennythorburn.me.uk/section857880.html

My Etsy shop has a similar policy too, but with references to Etsy.

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A Course at Dartington


Last week I attended a short course organised by Art.Earth at Dartington Hall. it was called Form and context and lead by Chris Drury ( land artist) and Kay Syrad (poet and writer). Dartington was beautiful in full May garb, with good weather (until the last day). The course was about landscape/nature and art, in a practical way, with a lot of personal exploration. I got into ‘a reverie’ and  a playful state and didn’t make a huge amount, but a lot went in and is still being processed.  The above is a ‘drawing’ on the river Dart.

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End of exhibition

My exhibition has ended in the Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead. It all went smoothly – we didn’t even have to take the pictures down as the technician did it because we weren’t able to get there in the snow. There has now been the tedious job of recording and packing away into storage. However, a few of the pieces will be out again in a couple of weeks at the exhibition ‘Trees’ at the Open Door  centre in Berkhamsted. Meanwhile I’ve been making the prints that have been ordered.

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