Jo Angell: drawing from nature and the urban environment

Jo Angell talks about how she connected ideas derived from MoDA’s collections, to the gallery’s location in North Finchley. Read about Jo’s experience in her own words.

Drawing from Nature

The first thing I found was some ginkgo trees in the high road, planted beside the gallery and I thought “this is sort of a gift”, because I’ve always loved them. This find enabled me to do more research about these trees in nature. And this, together with the Oriental link to the katagami stencils in MoDA’s collections, just seemed right.

So I started to photograph the ginko trees and draw the leaves.  I read about their remarkable historic claim to fame – in that they just seem to survive anywhere, particularly in polluted areas.  From there I started to develop work based around the shapes of the leaves and the linear structures that you find on them. And I thought about how I could relate the intricately cut patterns of the katagami stencils to laser cutting, which is something I’ve worked with a lot.

Ideas from the Urban Environment

At the same time, I also found an Art Deco building in the High Road hidden behind Argos. It was an old department store called Owen & Owen that people in the neighbourhood remembered. It closed down in the 1970s. I also really liked some of the designs I found in MoDA’s Silver Studio Collection; there was something really dynamic about the shapes.

So I set about drawing and photographing this building in North Finchley with some of those designs in mind. I have always been really interested in the points where nature and urban life combine. So with this project, I really wanted to do a piece of work that was about this combination; the ginkgo tree on this busy high road that nobody really notices, but is keeping us breathing in this very congested area.


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