The Story Behind Understory: Talking to Jane Everett

Understory, by Jane EVerett

Understory by Jane Everett, installation shot

The next time you get a chance to walk through the ADM building on UBC Okanagan campus, remember to take a moment to look up, and take in the newly installed forest of charcoal trees floating from the ceiling, a work called Understory (2018–2019) by local artist Jane Everett. The six artworks displayed were generously donated by the artist herself to the Public Art Collection, the newest addition to an ever growing collection.

Jane Everett grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and did her Fine Arts degree at Queen’s University, she currently divides her time between her home in Kelowna and her cottage on the north shore of Shuswap Lake. Jane’s artworks have been exhibited across the country, and are held in both private and public art collections. Understory is now set to be discovered and enjoyed for many years to come as part of our Public Art Collection’s campus wide displays.

Stacey Koosel – How did Understory start? What was the inspiration?
Jane Everett – When I am finished with a series and can’t settle on what to do next I return to drawing from life so this started with looking out the window of my Shuswap studio and working in charcoal. I had done a series of pastel drawings called Canopy that looked up at the tree tops, and this became a study of the next layer of the forest, the understory.

Stacey Koosel – Are the trees in Understory modelled after particular trees from the Okanagan?
Jane Everett – They are definitely particular trees, tree portraits In fact.

Stacey Koosel – Can you walk us through the technique of creating these pieces?
Jane Everett – I usually start with an underdrawing in red or ochre conte, shifting to black when I am satisfied with the composition. Because these are so large, I had to roll up the bottom of the drafting  film when I was working on my drawing board and then finish them on the floor. You can see the bottoms of the trees are less detailed. It started because of the physical process of doing a nine foot drawing in a small studio but I quickly realized that not anchoring them in the forest floor gave them a floating feeling that made me want to hang them from the ceiling. I use a spray bottle to apply watered down acrylic gel medium to the drawings which I let drip down and/or I slash at with an eraser and this is how I get the texture you see on the work. Some of them are sliced into six inch strips so they will move in the air currents.

Stacey Koosel – What future projects are you working on?
Jane Everett – I am currently working on some large oil paintings that are still landscape based but much more abstract than my previous work. I have new studio space that has allowed me to work this size. I’m also working on a collaboration with a textile artist, Lily Thorne, on an installation that involves a folding wooden boat, drawings of the shadows of cedar trees, and ‘sails’ dyed using old rusted objects and embellished with stitching. Stay tuned!

View the video below to hear Susan Belton chat with artist Jane Everett for more about the installation on campus.

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