View From….An Exmoor Artist

Jo Down_print2

Recent visitors to Exmoor National Park’s HQ, Exmoor House, may have noticed a series of Exmoor-centric paintings which we had on temporary loan from local artist Jo Minoprio (Moorland Art). They will now be available to view as part of the “EXMOOR TO THE SEA” exhibition at Landacre Gallery, starting this Saturday (23rd), running until Sunday 8th October between 11am and 6pm. In preparation for the opening, we decided to get a view from Jo as to what inspires her art.

Jo Down“We think of our Exmoor landscape as being natural and wild when actually the miles of hedgerows have been modelled by man through being cut, laid, trimmed or simply left over the years, forming exquisite but temporary sculptures of our
time”. So Jo Minoprio describes the landscape where she first came to live 40 years ago.

After studies in art and porcelain restoration, Jo worked as a designer/decorator, whilst also being a wedding/parties’ photographer. She also traveled extensively before returning to settle with her husband and son on her beloved Exmoor. “This landscape works its way into a person’s soul”,  Jo continues as she explains how she fell in love with Exmoor: “its empty openness, the trees, the rivers, the peace and especially the beech hedges with their sculptural forms and distinctive silhouettes.” It’s these silhouettes of endless lines of beech hedges which have become a trademark of Jo’s work.

Jo Down_print1Planted on high banks, travelling over wild moor and valleys alike, these beech hedges are unique to Exmoor and continue to inspire Jo’s exploration of her skills, most recently using ink and water-colour, as can be seen in her recent pictures.

Jo’s other passion is the desire to bring together other artists who share her love of Exmoor – finding a centre for the growing community of artists who want to display their work and celebrate the beauty of the area. And she discovered the perfect spot in the heart of the moor – in a derelict barn!

Starting in 2010, Jo started to breathe new life into Lanacre Barn, high up on the Exmoor hills, overlooking the Barle Valley (part of Lanacre Farm, which is nestled into the side of the hill above the ancient monument of Landacre Bridge). She has carefully restored the exterior and designed a stunning gallery space inside, creating a warm and welcoming venue for artists and craftspeople.

Jo Down_print3Lanacre Barn Gallery is now in its sixth year of hosting annual exhibitions open to the public and Jo feels incredibly privileged to enable the work of such a diverse and talented group of artists to be seen. This year’s exhibition, ‘Moor to the Sea’ (running in conjunction with the Somerset Art Works Festivalvenue 67) offers a rare chance to experience the work of some very talented local artists (professional and emerging talent), using a wide variety of styles and media: oil, watercolour, ink, photographs and jewellery. “There will be something for everyone, set in a spacious gallery, with a large number of pictures hanging. All set in the glorious wilderness of Exmoor, from which the artists have taken their inspiration.” says Jo.

The ‘Moor to the Sea’ exhibition runs from Saturday 23rd September to Sunday 8th October, every day from 11 am to 6 pm. The artists featured are Leo Davey, Jessamy Keily, Miranda Johnston, Luke Martineau, Louis Down, Niko Michalopoulos and Jo Minoprio herself. You can read more about their specialisms on Jo’s webpage www.moorlandart.com.

Jo looks forward to welcoming visitors from near and far to this annual exhibition to see the proof that fine art on Exmoor is alive and well!

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