Gillian McKenna

A Retrospective 2020

Courtyard Arts Gallery

Viewing by appointment only until 21st December 2020

*PLEASE NOTE* Courtyard Arts Gallery viewing is currently strictly by  appointment only

Gillian McKenna is a local artist who has been closely associated with Courtyard Arts for many years.

Gilly was born in Kenya, from the Swift family of early pioneering coffee farmers.  She later settled in England with her husband in 1968. Gilly graduated with a degree in Art & Design from the University of Hertfordshire in 1997. She has been a resident of Hertford since 2007 and for many years rented a studio at Courtyard Arts where she also taught a very popular mixed media class.

Gillian’s paintings, both abstract and semi-abstract, are about the space,  silence and hues of Kenya’s noble landscapes. As a child, she used to fly over the 300 miles of scrubland between Nairobi and Mombasa and images of the markings of the land remained with her. She saw dry riverbeds, random dots, meandering lines and faint traces of human habitation; the colours of the land wavering from silvery straw to faint, warm pink caused by laterite. On the ground, she imagined sitting on a rock with the sun on her face, hearing the occasional birdcall and the rustle of wind shaking seeds from the grass.

The colours of Gillian’s work are very African and can be found in the precious collection of bark, shells, fossils, stones and vegetal forms which inspired her and were displayed on her studio shelves at Courtyard Arts.

During her years as a Courtyard studio resident, Gillian was an integral part of the Courtyard community – as an artist, a tutor and a volunteer.  The response to Gillian’s presence was and is always enjoyment and laughter. It is giving her great delight to be exhibiting her work again on the walls of the Gallery.

A Poem for the artist Gillian McKenna
by Edward Long

We spent so much time drinking coffee,
watching the tide marks on the cups,
deposits of foam, colonies of chocolate powder.
I love the texture, it’s like your painting

I always thought I was either
high above Africa in a small aeroplane,
taking in the land.
Or I was a scientist studying cell forms
through a microscope.

Coffee stains show a history.
An afternoon, an archaeology.
Earth layers, sliced strata
revealed on your canvases.

I wonder and seek no single answer.
Your work is earth, a meteorite,
a continent, a seam of clay,
a cell form.

Ed was a poet and volunteered at Courtyard in 2008.  Above is the poem he wrote for Gillian.

Price List 2020

1  Bubbles and Seaweed  Mixed media on paper  £25 
2  Nearly Really Pink 2018  Mixed media on paper  £25 
3  Untitled I  Mixed media on paper  £25 
4  Untitled II  Mixed media on paper  £25 
5  Yellow Earth 2011  Mixed media on canvas  £95 
6  Yellow and Blue   Mixed media on canvas  £25 
7  Still There 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
8  Pink Sighs 2004  Mixed media on canvas  £195 
9  Fading 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
10  In the Reef 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
13  The Blue Place 2014  Mixed media on canvas  £65 
14  Whale Bubbles  Mixed media on paper  £25 
17  Still Yellow 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
18  Bleached Earth and Burning Stone II  Mixed media on canvas  £95 
19  Track by the Charred Patch 2012  Mixed media on canvas  £95 
21  Square Rocks 2016  Mixed media on canvas  £125 
22  From the Rocks 2010  Mixed media on canvas  £125 
24  The Track 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
25  Deep in the Black Stuff 2012  Mixed media on canvas  £80 
26  So Fading 2009  Mixed media on canvas  £125 
27  Spaces 2014  Mixed media on paper  £50 
28  Hot Rocks 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
29  Very Hot 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
30  Up High 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
31  Water Glow 2002  Mixed media on canvas  £150 
33  Blue Quiet 2015  Mixed media on paper  £50 
34   Reef Again 2016  Mixed media on paper  £50 
35  Untitled III  Mixed media on canvas  £125 
36  The Waterfall Place II 2018  Mixed media on canvas  £125 
38  River of Gold 2017  Mixed media on canvas  £150 
39  Fishy Things 2018  Mixed media on paper  £25 
40  Untitled IV  Mixed media on paper  £25 
41   Just Floating Along  Mixed media on paper  £25