Jane Thorne finds much of her happiness while painting and drawing most things. However she has a special fondness for bugs and beetles.
As far back as 650 A.D., iridescent metallic green wings of beetles were used to give pizzazz to paintings, jewellery and textiles. Monks in the Middle Ages faithfully adorned documents with figures of insects. Insects also appeared as heraldic symbols on clothing and armor in medieval Europe.
Modern day Waiuku-based artist and book illustrator, Jane Thorne, takes great pride in her glorious hand painted creations accented with shimmering beetle wings and bug antennae. Although not real, her beetles and bugs appear capable of flying or crawling from the surface at any given moment. Using the medium of acrylic on wood panel for most paintings, a loose brush stroke is often used in the background with intricate details overlaying to describe with as much accuracy the insects themselves.
Thorne prefers not to collect insects as such, although people arrive with little donations, knowing her obsession. She finds the odd specimen here and there, around the 1910s farmhouse her and partner Pim are currently renovating. She does not actively trap anything. She prefers to let bugs live their obscure active lives. Thorne mostly draws from photographs she collects. Her work is influenced by her interest in museum collections and is intrigued by the obsessive nature of collectors and evolutionists.
In the intricate works of Make Yourself at Home, nature is her primary source of inspiration followed closely by her love of antiques. Entering the gallery as an interloper into her private world, Thorne invites you to make yourself at home. Peak inside the partly open dresser drawer. Take a seat at her writing desk. The vintage wallpaper peeling from her studio wall appears on the canvases, as she tussles between home decorating, painting and book illustrating.
In Thorne’s painting Second Drawer Down, up close bugs appear both monstrous and beautiful. The result is a whimsical formation, swarming forces of good and evil that reveals the seedy underbelly of human nature. Messy disorganised drawers and lives that we often have but hide in the second drawer down, the drawer we hope no-one will open! Jane’s work brings attention to unseen spaces and detailed moments that might otherwise be considered mundane often with a surreal quality. However, her work is equally influenced by snapshots of reality that have been significant in her own life, telling stories of personal histories. It is often the small, intimate details of nature that attract her eye. “I depict real species in my paintings, as I can’t imagine life forms more wonderful and bizarre than those actually found here on Earth. Nature is stranger than fiction!” giggles Thorne.
Not furry, cuddly or cute, bugs often have a bad reputation. At the sight of them, people reach for rolled-up newspapers or leap to the nearest stool. But to artist and illustrator Thorne, insects are creatures of beauty, raw material for her whimsical art.
Remember, we need insects to pollinate flowers that, in turn, produce fruit. We need insects for decomposition. Without insects, we wouldn’t exist.
Come delight in nature’s colourful creatures, lose yourself in cosmic abstracts and revel in Thorne’s fanciful world.
Disclaimer: NO BUGS have been harmed in the production of the Thorne’s colourful array of paintings.
Thorne graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts. She has been influenced by several of her peers and tutors including Martin Ball and Frances Hansen. She has work in private collections in Europe and New Zealand. Her paintings have been exhibited both locally and internationally and she has also illustrated nine books with more to come.
'Make Yourself at Home' exhibition - 26 July to 14 August 2018