Janet (Gipps) Berrigan
Jan was born in 1954 and grew up with a very practical family that encouraged her to pursue her drive to create. Her father owned and managed a hardware store and possessed wonderful practical and intellectual skills and her mother was not much different. A love of indulging her art drive in a broad variety of media set the scene for a lifelong passion for creating art in a wide variety of forms and a hunger to seek information on art history, styles, techniques and practices. Currently You Tube and various other web sources provide Jan with an endless source of information and flame a desire to push boundaries and mix techniques from different disciplines for self expression through her art.
Her formal studies were encouraged in a different direction. Jan was able to achieve academically, so was encouraged in the field of science. She completed degree in Physics and Physiology and five years later a first class honours degree in Zoology, both at Monash University in Clayton, and made progress towards a PhD before discontinuing to become a full time mother. Jan always kept art as her primary driver in life (apart from family etc.) She was making art in one form or another parallel to her formal studies and found the knowledge of comparative anatomy and problem solving skills developed in her courses to be invaluable. Sculpture in many forms was the primary area that she pursued. Her technical skills were also assisted by completing the moulding and casting unit in a Museum Preparator Course, at Box Hill TAFE, not long after her first child was born.This was closely followed by classes in porcelain doll making and original doll sculpting, resulting in many prizes in doll making competitions. She sold many original porcelain dolls at doll shows.
Private classes in investment casting in bronze led to more serious art production. Jan made small Australian animal bronzes that she sold through Makers Mark in Collins Street and the Wire Grass Gallery in Eltham and the Convent Gallery at Daylesford both in exhibitions and on commission. Then, during life-drawing sessions, Jan took her wax to each session and created human forms to cast in bronze. These bronzes were also sold through the Wire Grass Gallery and later at the Convent Gallery and as private commissions. Her forms became increasingly stylised. The stylised forms were then interpreted in paintings that told a story about the figures. Coming from 3D sculpting, she felt no desire to round the forms on her canvases and preferred to play with colour and use other techniques to create a sense of depth. This culminated in a solo exhibition of paintings and bronzes (the figures appearing in the paintings) at the Convent Gallery in 1999 with significant success in sales and a commission for a large painting. Further bronzes were sold through the Convent Gallery. Manyung Gallery in Mt Eliza approached Jan to exhibit regularly at their Gallery and included her in their publication; “Selected Contemporary Artists of Australia” Michael Berry 2003. Her works were also exhibited at Without Pier Gallery in Cheltenham. Jan also held a solo exhibition of smaller works at a private Gallery in Hampton in 2001. Jan was also commissioned to make sculptures for a Smorgie’s Restaurant and a film set. She finally accepted that she was an artist.
This success removed her need to prove herself in the art world and freed her to pursue other fields of creativity. Jan has made silver jewellery, created lead-light windows (including fused class sections,glass painting and printing), glass jewellery, marquetry and soft sculpture in various forms including jewellery (using sewing, knitting, crochet and multi-shaft weaving techniques). She even travelled to Mapuru in North East Arnhem Land with CERES to learn basket weaving with the local Yolgnu women. Every field explored opened up opportunities for cross disciplinary approaches and truly original approaches to creativity.
She currently indulges her creative drive in marquetry and soft sculpture in which she derives a huge amount of pleasure.”