Jenny Meehan – General Introduction 

I am a painter/visual artist/contemplative/poet/writer and mother, based in Surrey/South West London, UK.
Interested in spirituality (particularly Christ centred spirituality), creativity, emotional and psychological well-being.

A vocational, rather than a professional artist, I exhibit mainly in the UK, and am a member of Kingston Artists’ Open Studios. I am currently training with SPIDIR as a spiritual guide/mentor. I am a trained teacher and hold occasional small groups in developing painting and drawing skills, and general visual creative expression.

Contact me via the contact form on my website http://www.jamartlondon.com if you would like more information with respect to art tuition, and/or if you wish to receive my my bi-annual newsletter.

My artistic training has been through the Short Course programme at West Dean College, Surrey and through local adult art education classes. Professional in approach, I exhibit widely over the UK and some of my paintings and prints are available for purchase.

Please note that all images of my artwork are subject to copyright law: All rights reserved: Jenny Meehan DACS (Designer and Artist Copyright Society). In the first instance, contact me, and I will refer, as/if appropriate.
http://www.jamartlondon.com

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 jenny meehan uk british contemporary fine artist uk boarded window photo jenny meehan

boarded window photo jenny meehan

Above “Boarded Window” photograph.  One of the Chessington Series.  copyright Jenny Meehan DACS

Kingston Artists’ Open Studios “Selfie” Exhibition at Cass Arts, Kingston Upon Thames

Another task is the self portrait for the KAOS exhibition at Cass Arts, in Kingston Upon Thames.  (103 Clarence Street, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1NW).  The exhibition will be called ‘Selfie’ and Kaos members  will submit at least one self portrait.  It is planned to hang the exhibition on 3rd June, and Cass Art have kindly offered to sponsor a private view on Thursday 4th June.  This will be the official opening exhibition for this year’s open studios.   I have a few photographic works which I might submit, but the most likely one would probably be “Woman and Home” which was one of three digital art prints which where part of the very excellent ” Speaking Out – Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence” project at the University of Leicester (Dr Nicole Fayard and Stella Couloutbanis).  The “Speaking Out” (2014) project involved an exhibition of painters, printmakers, installation artists, sculptors, writers, photographers, and performers coming together because of their particular interest in gender violence.   “Woman and Home” was one of my submitted images.  It is a self portrait I took by holding a camera above me, as I was sorting through a huge pile of washing.   After manipulating the image I then added a layer of headlines taken from the front cover of the “Woman and Home” magazine.  Here is the text from the catalogue regarding the art work which was included in the exhibition “Speaking Out”:

“Jenny Meehan’s photography provides powerful representations of the psychological damage that can be inflicted on children who witness domestic abuse.  Children acquire their positive sense of self and self-esteem from powerful role models, usually their parents or carers.  Trauma occurs when this relationship is broken.  The traumatised individual will incessantly re-experience the suffering caused by the events that shattered their sense of identity, independence or their trust.  Meehan explores such a mother-daughter connection by keeping both subjects separate but connected by their gaze.  In “Pages in my Story Book, It is Hard to Turn the Page”, eight juxtaposed copies of the same image of the artist’s daughter shot in high angle capture the sense of traumatic repetition that affects the child’s sense of self.  This contrasts with the image of the artist herself in a point of view shot in “Woman and Home”. Whilst both subjects are separated by the angle of the shot and the frame of the photograph, their gaze appears to look in the same direction. “Hide and Peep” shuts us out of the scene and offers the view of an insider – the child – looking out, conveying a sense of entrapment.  This oppressive mood is however contrasted as “Woman and Home” is superimposed with empowering messages.  The camera angle and the dialogue between “you” and “me” in the messages, which appear to reflect the survivor’s stream of consciousness, both act to restore her sense of self.  The sharing of the experience of trauma and empowerment might also provide ways of bringing the disempowered together.  By addressing her work to a wider community (“you”) Meehan implies that it is intended to function as a narrative of empowerment for a community of fellow-sufferers in similar positions.”

There is more text, but as usual, this Jenny Meehan Artist’s Journal is longer than it was ever intended to be, so I will skip the rest! The above text credit is as follows: “Speaking Out” University of Leicester 2014

 

Embrace Arts (University of Leicester Art Centre) Speaking Out: Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence Art Exhibition Following then along the same thread, was a decision to submit some work for the forthcoming Embrace Arts (Universityof Leicester’s arts centre) exhibition 2014 which is titled ‘Speaking Out: Women Healing from the Trauma of Violence’. It’s a collaboration of Embrace Arts and the School of Modern Languages.The exhibition will be at Embrace Arts from Monday 13 January through to Friday 28 March 2014. “The aims of Speaking Out are to promote awareness of the processes of healing from the trauma of violence against women and girls; communicate women’s experiences through contemporary art and from their testimonies; foster a dialogue about the connection between violence and mental health; break the secrecy and silence about the prevalence of abuse against the disabled; inspire confidence by speaking out to empower women and girls.” All really worthwhile stuff. And some more of the blurb: “The artworks that will be on display in Speaking Out will demonstrate that art can educate us about the effects of violence perpetrated against women and girls. The exhibition will foster the engagement of survivors with the processes that can help overcome traumatic experiences, and promote a positive view of women’s forms of resistance and empowerment through art.” Jenny Meehan "Woman and Home" photographic imagery submitted accepted for Leicester university

“Woman and Home” One of three submitted and accepted artworks for this valuable and worthwhile project.

 

I need to add, with respect to the following:  “This oppressive mood is however contrasted as “Woman and Home” is superimposed with empowering messages.  The camera angle and the dialogue between “you” and “me” in the messages, which appear to reflect the survivor’s stream of consciousness, both act to restore her sense of self.”   I liked this reading of the work, and so was happy to accept it for the purposes of the catalogue, which, rightfully, had an emphasis on the positives and recovery, rather than just the damage and negative effects of violence and trauma.    It was a pleasing reading, and I always value and appreciate others perspectives, though, the reality of the matter for me, at the time of making the work, was not optimistic.  I was in a place where I was re-experiencing quite strong bouts of emotional distress/flashbacks with respect to some of my own  past traumatic experiences, and the original image (of 2006, before I re-worked it ) was inspired by childhood experience of domestic  violence:  the power of existing within a schema of subjugation, rather than anything positive.  I was  struggling with  low self esteem also, and the work, from my own perspective, was more to do with feeling trapped by the messages from the media with respect to how I should be…A kind of media oppression!   And of feeling the weight of all that was involved in running a household,  and just about managing to do it while in the slough of despond.  I was feeling completely overwhelmed by media communicated expectations and images of what both a “woman” and a “home” should be.  So it was rather an expression of negative, than a positive, experience.  However,  I chose not to input this material into the catalogue, because, as said,  I didn’t dislike the interpretation.  I have always viewed women’s magazines with a lot of cynicism and not personally found them a source of empowerment…I am sure that they work very differently for many other people though.  And I do believe it is important to acknowledge the positive dimensions of having experienced a lot of suffering in one’s life, and to realise that there are many strengths which can be developed through having experienced extreme adversity.  I found a brilliant book on this, which I reference later on in this post.

 

Healing and Recovering Thoughts…

Even with very helpful experiences of divine healing, thanks to the Holy Spirit, and assisted  by some  influence from John Wimber’s ministry in the eighties,  plus all the other benefits of faith in a Creator God,  since around 2008, the accumulation of unresolved trauma (and lots of damaged ways of operating ) suggested (strongly!) that I seek professional help,  which I did in 2011.  For me personally, psychotherapy and its various approaches have been something which I have (and still find) very complementary to my faith and relations with others and God, and my interest in psychology of many approaches,  frequently brings my way lots of very interesting reading material which I find very useful when I look at my painting and other creative pursuits.  Something I have been reading recently is “The Posttraumatic Self: Restoring Meaning and Wholeness to Personality” Edited by John P Wilson…

“The Posttraumatic Self: Restoring Meaning and Wholeness to Personality” – John P Wilson  Routedge

I have to confess to only having read extracts of it on the internet, as I often do!  I cannot afford to buy all the books I might fancy reading, and I have not enough room to put them in anyway, but I do find my dipping into articles, extracts and papers which are easily found on the internet a great asset to my thinking about things!  I am finding “The Posttraumatic Self: Restoring Meaning and Wholeness to Personality edited by John P. Wilson immensely helpful.  Here is the blurb on it:

“Filling a gap that exists in most traumatology literature, The Posttraumatic Self provides an optimistic analysis of the aftermath of a traumatic event.

This work appreciates the potentially positive effects of trauma and links those effects to the discovery of one’s identity, character, and purpose. Wilson and his distinguished contributors explore the nature and dynamics of the posttraumatic self, emphasising human resilience and prompting continued optimal functioning. While taking into consideration pathological consquences such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the authors study the impacts a traumatic event can have on one’s inner self, and they help the victims transform such an event into healthy self-transcendent lifecycles. The Posttraumatic Self will help victims and healers transform the way they deal with the complexities of trauma by making important connections that will allow for healing and growth.”

It is such an excellent book, but even second hand it is quite pricey.  Maybe at Christmas!  (put it on the list!!!)

Trauma certainly is complex, and even more so when you have had lots of it over the years.  I have found reading the parts of this book I have had access to very helpful in balancing out the tendency to be more aware  of the negative impact of having had lots of very traumatic experiences (and the related consequences) than I am (at times) of the positives.  I know the positives are there, and experience them too,  but seeing them outlined has been immensely useful to me.  It’s much more common to be aware of the  pathological consequences as you push on through and forwards in the recovery processes.  It is easy to become discouraged by the physical tension you feel every day,  occasional flashbacks (which always take you by surprise!),  negative expectations, anxieties, etc, even though you know why you have the feelings and expectations you do.  I have come a very long way in the last several years,  and everything is now far more balanced, stable and joyful than it used to be.     I am getting my head around my life, and recovering a sense of meaning which isn’t totally fragmented and broken.  And even, seeing the blessing in it. There is a lot of blessing there for the receiving.   My awareness of my brokenness isn’t a negative.  I have often held onto this. And I have needed to, because I need to accept that I won’t ever recover completely.  Not in the way that you “get over” something.  It is more a matter of acclimatization and adjustment.  Re learning.  Understanding. Getting better at recognising what is happening emotionally and psychologically,  and acting accordingly.  And getting the spiritual sustenance I need.  Which brings me on to this!  …..

Canticle 74 : A Song of Our True Nature (Julian of Norwich)

Christ revealed our frailty and our falling, * our trespasses and our humiliations.

Christ also revealed his blessed power, *

his blessed wisdom and love.

He protects us as tenderly and as sweetly when we are in greatest need; *

he raises us in spirit and turns everything to glory and joy without ending.

God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature; *

God is the true father and mother of natures.

We are all bound to God by nature, *

and we are all bound to God by grace.

And this grace is for all the world, *

because it is our precious mother, Christ.

For this fair nature was prepared by Christ

for the honor and nobility of all,

and for the joy and bliss of salvation.

(the little stars are there to indicate that you make a long pause.  This is quite useful, as it stops you reading it aloud too quickly.)

 

I mentioned in a past posting about a very helpful workshop I attended at Mount Street Jesuit Centre,  “Life Before Death” and I was so grateful for this input, as it has been very much in line with my interest in making important connections which will allow for healing and growth.  I have had a chance to review my notes and the material, and while I can offer only a glimmer, putting it here in this Journal is a good way for me to keep a note of it.  I find my paper notes, like my art work, paintings, poems and drawings, tend to float around the house and are very hard to retrieve!  Using this Journal means I have at least one river which flows in a place I can always find it!

Just briefly then,  the day focused on the psychology of flourishing…  Basically, paying attention to “what makes life worth living” and included considerations on analysing what happiness and well-being is.  A recommended read was “Thinking Fast Thinking Slow” by Daniel Kahnemann.  The distinction between the experiencing self and remembering self is something I would like to read more about. (I cannot really give a great account of the content of the day, as so selective is what gets into ones mind and not, but these little scraps will help me!)  Also a couple of books by Martin Seligman will be worth reading, I am sure.   Routes to well being can come through positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, and accomplishment, and all these are underpinned by character.

Other notes: (not necessarily particularly accurate…lots of information caught on ear wax on the way in, I think!  )

How important it is to look beyond us, especially the importance of HOPE!!!!!  Pitfalls of the “damage and deficit model of growth”…the idea that if you want to grow and change to be a better person you need to look at what is wrong with you and what you are lacking, and fix it.  The challenge is not solely  to fix and repair, but live with things creatively and work with them.  He wasn’t saying there isn’t a time to sort out mess if people get stuck, and wasn’t anti therapy or anything like that, it was more that it’s really important to look further than just inside ourselves.  (note, in my own reading regarding the pros and cons of psychotherapy, it certainly is a very focused way of working…I rate this and find it very helpful, but like any approach, it does have its pitfalls, and what is it’s strength may also a times be it’s weakness too…)  My notes on Character… Use your strengths to solve problems or to cope with things that cannot be changed.  Build a life around what you are good at.   Point about the way we have ended up with a “victimology”… the character as a moral agent has declined, personal responsibility matters.  Lots of practical ideas to try out, which I won’t go into here, but will try out!  Linked the psychological stuff with growth as a Christian and drew parallels between traditionally recognised virtues and values and positive psychology.

Oh, I cannot do it justice here, but I was most impressed, because I even had some homework to do, which I like immensely!

jenny meehan well spring rethinkyourmind NHS mental health resource art book selected jenny meehan

Well Spring is one of the artworks in the new Rethinkyourmind mental health resource

 

“Well Spring” above is suitable to go with this Journal entry…  It was one of the paintings chosen to be included in last year’s “Rethinkyourmind” Mental Health resource.

A lot of interesting thoughts and ideas regarding Flow.  (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) … All good and interesting.    Also, never to be forgotten , the heart.  So much information, great, exciting, super, interesting.  But as well as head, the heart.  Give me grace!

 

Mark Cazalet’s Recent Work

http://www.markcazalet.co.uk/news.html

I love these pastels by Mark Cazalet!

Mark Cazalet was one of several very inspirational teachers who taught me at West Dean College as part of their Short Course Programme, and I am so glad I took these images of students work on the course on colour, all those years ago!

mark cazalet course west dean 2007  students work

mark cazalet course west dean 2007 students work largest image jenny meehan’s painting

mark cazalet course west dean 2007  students work

mark cazalet course west dean 2007 students work early part of course

 

mark cazalet course west dean 2007  students work

mark cazalet course west dean 2007 students work middle part of course

 

mark cazalet course west dean 2007  students work

mark cazalet course west dean 2007 students work final part of course

I hasten to add that no LSD (or any other hallucinogenic drug!)  was given to students as part of the course… The dramatic change in the colours was due to the tremendous confidence and boldness encouraged over  the course, which is testimony to the art of the tutor as much as the students!   It was only a four day course, I think, so a lot happened!

I am recalling this course now I think as I am pretty sure that it was this time of year I took part in it!  Unfortunately I can no longer afford to continue with formal art training,  which is a shame, but I do have many happy memories.   I applied for a residency recently at the London City and Guilds Art School, but didn’t get it.  It was going to be one way of getting into an Art Education Institution, but not successful, sadly.  There is an Artist’s Access Scheme that some Colleges run, so maybe that might be worth looking at in the future.  See:  http://www.aa2a.org/

Well, looking back,   I have just put up one of my drawings which I drew from life during one of my West Dean College stints.

" room for a view" charcoal drawing by jenny meehan jamartlondon.com charcoal drawing landscape west dean college and west dean estate  jenny meehan romantic

” room for a view” charcoal drawing by jenny meehan jamartlondon.com charcoal drawing landscape west dean college and west dean estate jenny meehan romantic

 

This is available currently.  contact me for details via my website www.jamartlondon.com

I look back with fondness on the time when I painted from observation more than I do currently.  However I still draw from observation, in order to keep my eyes keen.  I don’t count out painting from observation, at all, but I have to go with the flow of what I am learning, and trust in the direction I have been carried in through my own process of discovery.  I was saying to someone recently that when I look at nature, I feel it is so wonderful I don’t want to insult the beauty of it by attempting to replicate it in any way.  I think this is why I have immersed myself in abstraction.  I feel that patterns of beauty can still be discovered and experienced but without attempting to copy something already there.  However, I feel that observation is very important indeed, and I spend a lot of time looking, and often drawing from life.  The time I have invested in exploring surfaces and colours, textures and composition, has meant my focus has been  off the external world somewhat.  But though I don’t put it down on paper, I spend a great deal of time looking!

Leatherhead Theatre Flying Colours Exhibition..

Will be hanging this exhibition of fine art prints with Chris Birch on Saturday 2nd May…

We are really grateful to the theatre for hosting the exhibition and hope it brings a lot of pleasure to many!

free art exhibition jenny meehan and chris birch Flying Colours Leatherhead Theatre

free art exhibition jenny meehan and chris birch Flying Colours Leatherhead Theatre

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