Joanne Humphreys BA PGCE MA
Joanne grew up and began her education surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales.
After leaving school in 1982 she then completed an Art and Design Foundation Course in Bangor, North Wales. It was during the residential at the base of mount Snowdon during this course that she won an award for the work that she produced during the course. It was around this time while studying in Bangor, she developed an interest in animals and the museum. Having worked for weeks inside the Zoology Museum at Bangor University, she created a variety of sculptures and drawings based on Crocodile skulls. At the same time, its was the surrounding North Wales mountainous region that continued to inspire her painting.
In September 1983 she moved to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire where she completed a degree in Fine Art with Honours in 1986. The degree show was a huge success with her first sale of an oil painting. Animals continued to be a focus during this time, especially birds, but more importantly creating movement in her work.
She returned to Wales with a major ‘one woman’ exhibition of her work which proved to be successful. Many of her work at the time remains in private collections in the Blaenau area.
During the 1990’s she continued to work on commission basis on the similar theme of animals but also to include illustration and portraits.
At the turn of the millennium she experienced a personal tragedy when her four year old son died of a rare type of childhood cancer, Neuroblastoma. Following from this she decided to focus more on her own personal project except for one piece of commissioned artwork held very close to her heart, which was the ‘Book of Memories’ that she illustrated for the bereaved families of the children who died of cancer in the county of Gloucestershire.
She went into teaching in 2003 and continues to teach art up to today at the Gloucestershire College.
Her work evolved to include studies of birds in their natural environment using chalk pastel and watercolour. It was around the time of her son’s illness that she became involved with fundraising for charity. The money she raised went to support families affected by bereavement and research for Neuroblastoma. She still continues to be involved with fundraising for charity today with donations of her artwork as part of her contributions to raising funds.
In 2011 she joined the Cheltenham Open Studios group of artists and under this remit she continues to exhibit and sell her work locally and nationally. It was around this time she joined the Association of Artists in Stroud and began working on a long-term project involving raising awareness for the disability, Down Syndrome.
This is when she began to include screen printing and wood carving in her work. Most of her inspiration continues to originate from animals but also repetitive patterns in nature. She set up an exhibition in Cheltenham in 2014 based on this project. In 2015 she had the exhibition at The Atrium Gallery in Cardiff to include 18 linear portraits and 25 wood carving with screen print. She called the exhibition ‘Art & Science’ in the hope that she could bring to the forefront the positives of disability to the public. At this time she began working in film where she collaborated with a filmmaker, Lee Matthews to create a film called, ‘The Dis.’
In recent years she has had numerous exhibitions of her work locally and nationally. Her work has mainly been focused on oil painting, as she puts it, ‘I want to see if I’m up for the job’, painting in oils after a hiatus of 15 years. Her paintings have a personal connection, even down to the flower chosen in memory of her father and the Geckos that remind her of days with her son Graeme.
In January 2020 she produced and directed a film called, ‘The Process’, again a collaboration with Lee Matthews. The film is a cathartic look at the grieving process with full body costumes made to depict the ‘inside out’ guinea pig, filmed in a remote wooded area where the screen takes you on a journey of ritualistic burning of MRI images, photos and x-ray images originating from the time when her son Graeme had his treatment for cancer. In the background you will hear the music composed by Gustav Mahler based on the poem written in memory of a dead child. (All films can be viewed from her website).
Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020 she has moved her studio to her home where she is currently working on her final Masters project based on ‘Lockdown Museum’.
Initially, she had planned on working with aspects of Cambridge Zoology Museum having visited the place the previous year. Her focus moved from the museum to the ‘Virtual Museum’ inside the home of the Taxidermist, her daughter Becky. This came about from having been invited the Guild of Taxidermist Conference just before Lockdown. Inspired by some amazing talks by guest speakers such as Anthropologist, Petra Tidjeski, she focused her attention on x-ray imaging of taxidermy, the extinct Great Auk and Darwin’s theory of evolution based on his Finches from the Galapagos Islands.
A combination of a variety of materials to include, porcelain, steel, concrete and fabrics were used to make the sculptures as a site response approach from the Taxidermist home.
She has completed a film based on the virtual museum to coexist with her sculptures.
Current exhibition at Canwood Gallery from the 10th October 2020