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Janet Lees

Janet is an artist and poet working primarily with photography, film and text. Her film-based works have been selected for international awards including the Aesthetica International Art Prize, while her poetry has won prizes in numerous competitions. She is widely published and anthologised, and in 2014 was selected to represent the Isle of Man, as one of 72 Commonwealth nation poets featured in BBC Radio’s ‘Poetry Postcards’ project.

For the past two years Janet has been facilitating creative writing for wellbeing workshops at The Hub in Port Erin as part of the southern community art project, supported by Isle of Man Arts Council. She is a member of the Creative Network and a founder member of Poetry Unlimited. Janet has a BA Hons in Creative Arts and an MA with distinction in Creative Writing.

Artist’s statement

Through my visual work I’m exploring different notions of beauty and the fundamental reality of impermanence. Wabi-sabi, the traditional Japanese ideal of perfect beauty, acknowledges three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect – quite the opposite of the punitive and literally impossible modern western ideal of beauty.

The ‘perfectly imperfect’ eastern vision is reflected in my work as a kind of recycling of perception, which for me is also a way of being in the world without turning away from the devastation that’s all around us. I love walking by the sea and in the mountains. But equally I have a passion for stalking urban alleyways and post-industrial hinterlands to find beauty in cracked walls and broken windows, in filthy canals, on the slopes of landfill and in the cathedral-like spaces of abandoned factories. The resulting images are like visual haiku, abstracted fragments that carry traces of the infinite, the transient and the juncture between the two. I’m endlessly fascinated by the ways we see and represent ourselves; the marks we make on the world and the poignancy and comedy that arise as they disintegrate.

My poetry and text-based work similarly reflects the human condition and human perception – tending more towards internal landscapes, but always with an unbreakable thread between the inner and outer world. I find it inexpressibly sad that the human race and the natural world are viewed as separate entities, when in fact we are inextricably linked. I think the fluidity between the different areas of my work reflects this. Visual haiku, film poems, soundscapes – everything is poetry, whichever sense it presents itself to. I also love collaborating with other artists across different disciplines, not only because this is creatively enriching, but also because it’s a real solace in ‘interesting times’.