Mother and son exhibit together

pigeonsAn interesting fusion of artwork is being exhibited in Matlock by a mother and son duo both making a late start as full time artists.

The Etiennes have always been creative but somehow never found the time to get their work out to a wider audience.

Mum Valerie devoted many years bringing up a family of five and the youngest of those children Jason (pictured), now 43, spent a decade working in the film industry.

Both of them have now turned their attention to their real passion – visual art and getting it noticed.

Valerie is also a dressmaker, quilter and crafter and her work reflects her love of detail and intricacy.

She was 63 when she finally gained an art degree having realised that she wanted to take her education further when her children had left home.

Jason was among the family members encouraging her and it was he who paved the way for her to create the calligraphy used in Elizabeth I, the film starring Helen Mirren, as he was working in the production company art department and he had the opportunity to recommend her designs.

Now Jason is including his mum’s work at an exhibition he is staging at In The Flow in Matlock’s Crown Square.

His own work centres on urban surrealism and explores celebrity icons as well as making political comment. In his youth he was into graffiti art and he says that he wants to give his paintings the feeling that they have been ripped from a wall and put in a gallery.

“To be honest even though I have been painting for many years I really feel as if I am at the very beginning of my career all over again.

“I want to make art on a full time basis and I’m completely sure that my artistic voice is finally emerging and I know the direction I am heading.”

Jason, who was born in Derbyshire, has moved around a lot in his life but has returned to his home town of Matlock where he has memories of a creative upbringing.

“We weren’t exactly Bohemian but there were a lot of us in our home on the Hurst Farm Estate and there was always something creative going on. Something was always being made and we had the best of times.”

As the youngest Jason was influenced by the taste of his older brothers but it was seeing the film Star Wars that was to influence him the most.

“After that I was always working on caricatures and
sci-fi scenes and later it influenced my choices as I chased after a career in film.”

Jason studied art at Chesterfield College and went on to do graphic design at Derby and Colchester and animation in Kent. After graduating, with his brother Darren and set designer Mark Swain, he spent three years making a stop motion animated film which earned them a selected nomination for a BAFTA award.

He then spent a decade designing for the film industry.

“After working for so many years in the film industry, I began to lose interest. It was a highly volatile environment and you never knew when you would have work,” he said explaining  his decision to change direction.

Now the artist has acquired a teaching qualification and spends two days a week lecturing and the rest of his time on his painting.

“I hope my work is both thought provoking and pleasing and that it has something to say. This exhibition is very much the start of things to come,” he promised.

The Weapons of Mass Creation exhibition can be seen at In The Flow in Matlock until December 12 and Jason’s work is also on display at the Twenty Ten bar and Spinderella in Dale Road in the town.

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