Thursday, July 05, 2012

BP Travel Award 2011: Jo Fraser travels to Peru

The Weavers by Jo Fraser 
BP Travel Award Winner 2011
Every year I always enjoy seeing what the BP Travel Award winner from the previous year has produced as a result of the bursary awarded to the winning proposal.  One of the best aspects is the fact that artist is painting people not normally seen on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery!

BP Travel Award 2011

In 2011, the BP Travel Award was won by Jo Fraser.  She received a £5,000 bursary for her proposal to travel to the Cuzco region of Peru to observe the labour-intensive production of textiles in small indigenous communities.

Her proposal stemmed from her interest in the geometric aesthetic of Andean hand-weaving, the allegorical symbolism within their designs and the ritualistic purposes for which they are created.
To set up the trip Jo first made contact the weaving community throughAwamaki, a small Peruvian non-governmental organisation (NGO). Awamaki works to protect the endangered textile traditions of two impoverished weaving communities by providing the female workers with access to a market for their work.

In the Autumn of 2011, Jo travelled to Peru and lived with an indigenous family of Quechua weavers in the small, mountainous village of Patacancha.  The village is located at 12,600 ft, high in the Andean mountains above Ollantaytambo, in the heart of the sacred Patacancha Valley.  The village comprises approximately 250 families, spread over many small hamlets scattered up and down the valley. Their homes are made of adobe bricks (made of clay, sand and straw), and have grass-thatched roofs. The women use ancient techniques to weave, spin and dye using natural pigments. The women belong to the Patacancha weaving association.

She developed the oil painting you see above. It was developed from sketches and photographs taken during her visit. The subjects are shown sitting in an arc, as she wanted to suggest that the viewer was sitting in on the daily occasion of their weaving. Originally the portrait was to be set in the village itself, but after two months Jo began again and decided instead to paint the weavers against what she saw as the timeless and epic dynamic of the mountains where they live.
"I found it incredibly easy to photograph the women, as they naturally ignored my camera, neither changing their demeanour for the lens nor shying away from it. For a portrait artist it was fantastic. Living in such isolation, and without a common tongue, it was easy for me to philosophise. Quechua lifestyle and practices felt almost unadulterated by urban trends. Their culture, descended from the Incas, embraces skills, beliefs and a moral code that is inconsistent with my experience of contemporary Western culture, yet feels so nostalgically familiar to me and compatible with my nature.
The painting she has produced as a result of her trip commands the part of the gallery it is located in the NPG. The reds are amazingly luminous and really draw the eye to look at the painting.

Some may have already read about her trip as it was featured in an article in the February 2012 issue of Artists & Illustrators Magazine.

These are Jo's blog posts about the journey and the process ( of producing the painting - written after she returned
Jo's painting of "The Weavers" - and some of the studies forming part of the portfolio of work created  - are currently on display in the Wolfson Gallery at the National Portrait Gallery (alongside works in the BP Portrait Competition).  Admission is free and the exhibition continues until 23 September.

Studies of the Quechua Weavers by Jo Fraser
About Jo Fraser
Jo Fraser (Jo Fraser) is Scottish. She was born in Edinburgh, and trained at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee.  She graduated in 2008 with a first class honours degree.  Following the success of her degree show, Jo was invited to become the resident artist for a castle in Angus and produced portraits of the family’s children. She then worked extensively and exclusively on large portraits for private collections and stately homes in Scotland.

After she graduated she became the resident artist for a castle in Angus and then ent on to work on large portraits for private collections and stately homes in Scotland.   Jo was also Artist in Residence at The Edinburgh Academy, Scotland for the 2011/12 academic year. 
Previous BP Travel Award Winners
You can read about and see the images produced by previous BP Travel Award winners in previous posts on this blog.
The BP Travel Award 2011 was judged by;
  • Rosie Broadley, Associate Contemporary Curator, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Liz Rideal, Art Resource Developer, National Portrait Gallery, London
  • Des Violaris, Director, UK Arts and Culture, BP

1 comment:

  1. What a talented artist! Nice to read this interesting post. Lesley


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