Milton Keynes artist overcomes arthritis to be nominated for top honour

Jan Harrington
Jan Harrington

An artist from Milton Keynes who was forced to change the way she worked due to arthritis has been nominated for a prestigious award.

The painful condition hampered Jan Harrington’s love of drawing lines freehand, and so she set about finding a more comfortable way of creating her art – and the answer was tape.

Jan Harrington

Jan Harrington

Jan’s new way of working caught the eye of staff from MK Gallery in Milton Keynes, who have nominated her for the Platform Graduate Award, which supports emerging graduate artistic talent to further their practice following graduation.

Devised in 2012 in collaboration with CVAN South East, the award is a partnership between four galleries, with the others being in Portsmouth, Margate and Oxford. Twenty three graduates have been nominated from across 14 universities in the south east.

Jan will exhibit her work at MK Gallery during November, with the winning artist from the 23 announced on Saturday 23 November. The winner will receive a £2,000 bursary and bespoke mentoring.

Jan, who graduated with a Fine Art degree from the University of Northampton in July, said: “I’d been creating doodles and line drawings since I was 15 years old. Becoming frustrated with the illustrative style I was working in, I returned to Art A-level as a mature student, found my imagination and returning to abstract line drawings, holding a solo exhibition in 2006. After many years of producing pen and ink series, I realised I needed more creative development and decided to go to university.

“The course has been amazing, allowing me to experiment with sculpture, metalwork, zines, but eventually I returned to fine pen and ink work.

“With my work becoming more intricate, I began to find it a struggle to hold a pen for any length of time, discovered tape, and haven’t looked back.”

Jan began constructing 2D and 3D tape installations in her final year at the University and invites interaction with visitors including tearing the work down which then becomes part of a video project.

She said: “I play with the moving image as well as the sounds of the tape ripping off the walls, it’s a wonderful noise.”

Jan added: “I’m really proud to be nominated for the Platform Graduate Award, as it validates all my hard work. Even if I don’t win, getting this far has raised the profile of my work and it’s great to be in this position so soon after leaving University.”

Now, with the backing of tape manufacturer Cr8 Tapes, she has plenty of the raw material at her disposal and is looking forward to creating her installation at MK Gallery.

You will be able to view her work at the gallery from Thursday 7 November to Saturday 30 November.