Lower Town, Fishguard

Outdoor Artist – Jennie Shales

Fishguard Library Exhibition extended

If you were in Fishguard Library this June you will hopefully have taken time to look at the exhibition by local artist, Jennie Shales – her show has been extended so you may just be in time to catch it if you are quick!

A choice for her father between a job based in Fishguard or New Zealand when she was four led Jennie to grow up in the area  and she came back to the town as an adult after some time away. Originally a primary school teacher , Jennie had always enjoyed art, but did not serioulsy consider devoting much time to it until 2014. Recovering from chemotherapy after breast cancer and temporarily away from her home in Lower Town due to a flood, Jennie found herself in a cottage overlooking the sea and the Preseli mountains, with time on her hands and not well enough to do much. She felt inspired by the views and began to paint and draw. Just a couple of years later she has an impressive array of works and has rapidly become a well-known and respected contributor to the thriving local art scene.

What drew me to Jennie’s work is her unusual use of colour and very particular style – she told me that this is from her use of chalk pastels, acrylics and watercolours (sometimes all in the one picture). Until she has just spent a month in the gallery with her exhibition and has started some indoor experimentation, Jennie has always created her work outside . She has a rucksack with her containing her paints and a selection of different coloured paper and can be known to grab any few minutes to create a new work – a recent drawing was started in a half an hour break on Newgale beach and another in her Dad’s boat. She does not plan , but responds to the mood or feeling of the moment and is inspired by the Pembrokeshire land and seascapes.

When she started Jennie was supported and encouraged by other local artists and began to produce prints and cards too with the guidance of Goodwick’s local printers, Barbara and Jonathon of Right Price – she already has calendars ready for 2018 and hopes that offering a range of cards and prints alongside the original works that there is something to suit every pocket and visitors can take away a little piece of her work with them.

Jennie’s art is unique in her use of colour and varied technique and she has often had buyers touched by a particular recollection inspired by her work -the stories behind these purchases are rewarding and fascinating, even if it is because the car on the quayside looks like the customers… She loves the thought that her pictures are now all around the world and has had a busy time at the exhibition with many local visitors as well as several groups from the cruise ships docking in Fishguard harbour.

One of the best pieces of advice fellow artists gave her was to not become too attached to each piece and at least she has cards and prints to remind her of those original works now adorning the walls of homes across the globe! Jennie has been told that Fishguard has about 300 resident artists and there is a strong and supportive network or painters and artisans to connect with.

Jennie takes commissions and is always trying new ideas and approaches, welcoming suggestions from others – she works instinctively and loves what she is doing – it was a pleasure to meet with her and hear about her growing following in Pembrokeshire and beyond.

Suzanne Ashworth of West Wales Web and Pembrokeshire Life Online
Words & Images by Suzanne Ashworth

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