Artists in Lockdown: Janette Kerr PPRWA

In a special series, we asked artists associated with the RWA about how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected their life and work. The first artist is Academician and former President of the RWA, Janette Kerr…

“… Initially I felt distracted and unfocused, but artists are used to working in isolation and at least I have a place to work, so that’s what I’ve been doing….”

Janette’s studio


“I flew back into Bristol airport from a 2 month residency in Skagaströnd, NW Iceland, straight into the UK lockdown. Self-isolating for 2 weeks on the north Mendip hills, I realised that there was no way I could now get back to my other home and studio in Shetland and the sea – the focus of most of my work. This has been pretty frustrating. All deadlines of exhibitions and tours of work vanished.

“Initially I felt distracted and unfocused, but artists are used to working in isolation and at least I have a place to work, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

“Making work en-plein-air is integral to my working process, consequently I’ve had to make do with sketches and memory – maybe not a bad thing! It’s given me time to re-assess and re-work some of the paintings – and make more – for my London show, now rescheduled for October, so this is something positive to come out of lockdown.

“It’s been pretty peaceful living out in the countryside, less distraction. I’ve also worked on a new project: The Walk – made as part of Groundwork/Landlinks project and been taking part in Instagram’s artist support pledge.

“My thought for the future after lockdown? Make more work, stay positive and stay creative.”

The walk from Janette Kerr on Vimeo.


About the artist

Janette Kerr’s paintings are about movement and rhythms of sea and wind, swelling and breaking waves, the merging of spray with air, advancing rain and mist, glancing sunlight – elements that are about something intangible. For the last 10 years, Janette’s work has focussed on Shetland and the far north, travelling to the High Arctic and more recently to northwest Iceland.  Beyond mere topography, but with a nod towards the Northern Romantic tradition in landscape painting, her practice remains contemporary and experimental.

Elected an RWA Academician in 2003, Janette became RWA President in 2011, then only the fourth woman to hold the position since its formation in 1844.



Janette’s website:  

Cadogan Contemporary Gallery, London:

​John Davies Gallery, Moreton-Marsh, Gloucestershire:

​Kilmorak Gallery, By-Beauly, Invernesshire:


Concept and interview by Laurel Smart


The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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