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In the Secret Garden: a conversation in Patrick Jeffs's studio

Patrick Jeffs was joined at his studio in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, by Alex Dewart and Cally Trench on Friday 28th May, for a discussion of Pat's current work.

Secret Garden, Green and Yellow by Patrick Jeffs

Patrick Jeffs
Secret Garden, Green and Yellow, 2009
Acrylic on paper
90 x 140 cms


Secret Garden, Lattice by Patrick Jeffs

Patrick Jeffs
Secret Garden, Lattice, 2010
Acrylic on paper
90 x 140 cms


Secret Garden, Light by Patrick Jeffs

Patrick Jeffs
Secret Garden, Light, 2010
Acrylic on paper
90 x 140 cms


Secret Garden, Sun by Patrick Jeffs

Patrick Jeffs
Secret Garden, Sun, 2010
Acrylic on paper
90 x 140 cms

Patrick Jeffs writes: I found that looking at my recent paintings in the company of Cally and Alex was a constructive and valuable experience and their reactions caused me to look afresh at much of my work. Their comments were entirely positive and yet, naturally, they responded to some paintings more enthusiastically than others. I found myself evaluating what they said against my own ideas about the success of each painting and trying to decide what qualities were common to those images which seemed to receive a good reaction. We considered various aspects of mark making, the use of flat colour juxtaposed against transparent and textured areas, fragmented space versus a continuous envelope of space and various illusions, in particular the illusion of light.

Encounters like this play a very important role in helping me develop and clarify the ideas which will influence the future development of my work.


Alex Dewart writes: As a painter myself it is often difficult to look at another painter's work without examining your own practice. Pat starts his paintings with no more planning other than his choice of colours. He doesn't work from sketches but develops the painting from some initial 'dirty' marks made on the canvas. There is a lyrical, flowing quality to Pat's work, which I think is strongly influenced by this process. My own process is very different to this; with an increasing use of pattern in my work I need to plan carefully beforehand. I think this closes down possibilities and I'm now trying to incorporate different kinds of painted areas which can at least partly determine the progress and outcome of the work. Before the visit to Pat's studio I had already started to do this but this has given more encouragement to further push for a freer process in my own work.

Cally Trench writes: I have been thinking about why it can be so helpful to discuss your work with other people. It is not that the other people are actually very likely to make good suggestions or solve problems. Unless they already know your work and intentions very well, they are as likely to miss the mark as hit it. So what do these conversations do? Assuming that the response is positive and supportive, then the sheer fact of other people taking the time to consider the work and listen to you speak about it, can give you a boost. It can be reinvigorating and counteract moments of dwindling confidence. But it also allows you to articulate thoughts that have been circling about amorphously in the brain. It can be hard to realise what you really think about something until you try to put it into words. So being an attentive audience may be the most helpful thing other people can do. And inevitably, everything that the other people say reveals what it is like to view the work, rather than to have make it. So you get flashes of what it is like to have that distance from the work, to be in the viewer's shoes. At the same time, the audience get flashes of what it was like to have made the work - which may in turn impact on their own work. It is also fascinating how much people (including artists) revert from analysis to emotional responses. And it is hugely satisfying to make work that other people respond to by saying 'I like that'.

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