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28 Days of Looking

Saturday 9 May to Monday 15 June

Scottish artist Jenny McLaren spent four weeks in the North York Moors in autumn 2014, as ‘artist in residence’ for Connections North (supported by Arts Council England and the North York Moors National Park Authority). Her experiences are recorded in the exhibition ’28 Days of Looking’.

Jenny’s art is firmly rooted in the outdoors. Drawing and painting ‘en plein air’ provides her with a direct connection to the land and the living things in it, and the challenge and the immediacy of working outdoors are now fundamental to her art. She seeks out quiet and wild places and records the things that catch her eye – in written notes, sketches and photos and, if the subject is settled, in small paintings on paper or wood board. 

The necessity of carrying materials over long distances and rough ground limits the materials Jenny uses, and this pared down approach leads to simple, truthful depictions of her experience of ‘place’. Her materials of choice are thick watercolour paper or wood panels combined with water-based media: gouache, acrylic ink and traditional watercolour paints.

Working this way, Jenny builds up a record of her wanderings and her interaction with the living landscape. One day’s field trip might result in several small works that can be viewed as individual pieces but, when grouped together, they tell a story of that particular day, in that particular landscape.

28 Days of Looking

The first two weeks of Jenny’s residency were spent exploring the moors and dales from a base near Rosedale Abbey, and the second two weeks at Robin Hood’s Bay, focusing on the coastline. With sketchbook and camera to hand, Jenny collected the source material needed to produce a new body of work. Working in the studio allowed her to develop larger paintings than those she usually makes while out on location. The result is a visual diary of her 28 days spent looking for the next path to explore through the North York Moors National Park.

For more about Jenny and her work, see