Review: “A Sense of Place” by Janine Burrows, at The Biscuit Factory- a gentle, evocative reflection on heritage

A warming reflection on a new exhibition at one of Newcastle's best loved local galleries.

Ruby Taylor
24th October 2021
Image Credit: Ruby Taylor
A collection of mixed media paintings and sculptures, Janine Burrows’ “A Sense of Place” is a gentle and loving honouring of Northumberland. 

There is a very calm feeling in the gallery around this exhibition, with  beautifully natural and balanced colours. The space of the painting is distorted to value the sea over the land, so you get these gorgeous swathes of blue sea and waves in the work. Mixed media also works really well: the mediums are layered, making the image feel more tactile and present, especially in the small details such as the limpets and birds.  

Image Credit: Ruby Taylor

The work is very evocative of the locations it represents, and recognisable for those with knowledge of Northumberland. The bold, expressive movements of Burrows’ brushwork mirror the energy of the landscape she is calling up. This was especially apparent in the painting “The Path to Dunstanburgh,” where the sea rushes between the rocks and the grass seems to move in the wind, creating the wild atmosphere of a stormy day on this coastline. Burrows’ writes on the paintings, often naming the place, which adds another element of recognisability and connectedness to the work. You really feel this “sense of place” Burrows’ is seeking to achieve. 

"The Path to Dustanburgh"- Image Credit: Ruby Taylor

As person with Northumberlandian heritage, having a strong feeling of connection to the area despite not having grown up here,“A Sense of Place” raised some really interesting questions for me. Burrows’ has a similar history, having grown up in Yorkshire but with grandparents living in Northumberland. This raised the question, to what extent do we have the right to chronicle this place, lying in this liminal space between being an outsider or not? 

Despite this, the work is kind and extremely appreciative of the landscape, and seems to be a way the artist and others can connect to this place, especially those that are removed from the landscape of their heritage.  

Image Credit- Ruby Taylor

The work was lovely, calm, and a way to connect to the land and sea of Northumberland. It didn’t proclaim anything, just sought to appreciate these beautiful places. Just like Burrows’ writes on one of her paintings, the work feels like “Pocket treasure after beach walks:” small pieces of places and memory you collect and value over time, making a sense of these important places.  

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AUTHOR: Ruby Taylor
Sub-editor for Arts. First year English Literature and Creative Writing student.

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