Janette Cervin - Utopia

Janette Cervin - Utopia



This recent series of work reflects a personal reaction to a post covid world which appears chaotic, in many ways broken with the lingering threat of a third world war and the effects of climate change appearing constantly on our TV screens and social media.   I focus instead on a place  Utopia, a place of  abundance and near ideal perfection, expressing beauty and the enchantment of the natural world. 

I begin each painting with no set intentions, drawing on my deep love of nature and my desire to create a whimsical, fantastical and fictitious narrative. This body of work is an expression of celebration  and  the joy to be living in the abundant lands of Aotearoa. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else right now. When I sit in my studio, surrounded by my work, finished and unfinished, the sense of home is ever present. I have more than enough.


Janette Cervin Q&A's

Who and what inspires your work?

I have drawn inspiration from the Still Life Vanitas Painters of the 16th Century.  The technical skills, with layers of  glazes and paint give the works a deep,  atmospheric quality. I have always been intrigued by conceptual ideas around the fragility and transience of life that the Vanitas artists portrayed. My work is very much driven too by the love of gardens and nature. I have chosen to live and paint amidst it with my husband on a secluded lifestyle block surrounded by native bush, gardens and abundance of  birdlife.


What do you think it is about your work that captures the heart of collectors?

I think the process of creating multiple layers of paint and resin draws the viewer into and around the work. Some areas are sanded back revealing the skeletal paint marks formed by the brush. This ghostly hint of flowers amongst the gooey, glazed layers allude to the pentimento effect achieved by the old masters where hints of previous works are glimpsed through the layers of glazes and paint.  Imagination can get lost in the unique glossy, layers creating a lush, yet surreal nature to the work leaving the viewer to create their own narrative.


Tell us about your creative process?

 My work is very process driven with aesthetic decisions being made as the painting develops, as opposed to following any preconceived ideas. A narrative starts to form as I explore and investigate how the painting evolves through the process of creating. The different stages of development in the application, sanding back and layering, suggests the weaving in and out of time.  Some images are also painted on top of the final layer of resin.

The translucent, painterly, fantastical world that evolves, weaves past and present in a contemporary take on a traditional still life genre. 


Tell us about your success as an artist

 I completed my Master’s Degree, Flowers in a Contemporary Painting Practice, at Unitec in 2013.

As an emerging artist I received a number of awards;

 - Free to Meander Around Molly Morpeth Canaday Trust Art Award 2016

- Blended Families  Glaister Ennor Graduate Award  2014.

- The Pianist First Prize Art & Sculpture Awards Waitakere Arts 2013

- Flowers in the Landscape Molly Morpeth Whakatane Trust Awards 2013

- Looking West Art & Sculpture Awards Waitakere Arts 2013

- Though Art to me as a Flower to Bee Molly Morpeth Whakatane Trust Awards 2012

- Hydrangeas  The New Zealand Painting and Printmaking Award Waikato Society of Arts 2012`

In 2014 I became a practising artist with work in the Vivian Gallery in Matakana and several other galleries around New Zealand. These days my work is represented by Artform Gallery in Matakana, Parnell Gallery in Auckland and Artbay Gallery in Queenstown.

 Some recent highlights; 

Being invited as an artist on board Heritage Expeditions.  This was an incredibly inspirational trip around the sub Antarctic islands during lockdown.

Being invited to be part of the beautiful book  ‘Spirit’ Conversations with Creative Women, words by Jannine Wilkinson and photography by Ann Orman.  With over 320  stunning pages and foreword by the Rt Hon Helen Clark, the book will motivate many people to seek out their own creative talent.  It is such an honour to be included in it.


What can you expect to see in this exhibition?

Celebration and joy to be living in the Antipodes during these difficult global pandemic times. Despite being  constantly reminded of war and climate change on our TV screens and social media, my intention is to  create a dreamlike Aotearoa utopia at the bottom of the world. It is not perfect, but it is our homeland and there is nowhere I would rather call home than here. 


Plans for 2023?

My objective for 2023 is to have more fun by exploring and investigating ways of expressing ideas through the painting process and using different mediums.

Flowers for You was the last piece I completed and demonstrates a more expressive, freeness and vibrancy than previous works.



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