Herts Affordable Art Fair, 28th -30th July


The first Herts Affordable Art Fair will be taking place 28th – 30th July in the Sun Hotel in Hitchin as part of the Hitchin Festival – Private View on the evening of Friday 28th July, and I have been selected as on of 30 local artists to exhibit  work. See the poster below for more details, or click on the link to the HAAF Facebook event page. Come and visit us!

Click here for Herts Affordable Art Fair Facebook Page

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What next?

Jo Howe-Artist

I have finally resurfaced after another great show at Turn the Page in the beautiful and vibrant city of Norwich. Great crowds, beautiful works, interesting and thought provoking conversations and a chance to catch up with friends.

Silence – Unspoken words

Now looking forward,  it’s going to be a considerable time of change.

I begin a new adventure in September, studying for a second MA, this time in Arts Therapy. I have had an interest in this area for some considerable time and I am excited to be embarking on this new challenge. I am particularly looking forward  to being back into formal learning, where I know I will thrive with the diversity of a rich educational experience.

It will be a busy time… I am looking forward to another show with the collective PAPER SCISSORS STONE at Obsidian Art in Aylesbury in October 2017 as well as developing new…

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Come along and meet Gill Ayre

Come along and meet Gill Ayre alongside her work at Mudlarks Cafe in Hertford on Saturday 8th April 3pm -4pm, Map here. Gill is exhibiting as part of Hertford Arts festival this year, showcasing local artists and would be more than happy to chat about her work and answer any questions you may have.


Gill to exhibit in Hertford Art Trail 2017

Gill has been selected for this years Hertford Art Trail, part of Hertford Arts Festival , which runs from Friday 7th April to Sunday 7th May 2017, showcasing the work of local artists.

Featured artists are each allocated a prime town centre location to exhibit and sell work during the month-long event. This year’s pop up venues located around Hertford town centre will include retailers, bars and cafes, beauty salons and gift shops, and Gill’s work will be showing in Mudlarks Garden Cafe, Railway Street. Gill will be in the café for a Meet the Artist event from 3pm on Saturday 8th April – pop in and say hello!

The Trail runs from Saturday 8th April to Sunday 7th May with free entry at all venues.

The Art Trail launches on Friday 7th April at Hertford Castle with artists previewing one work from their pop up exhibition. Tickets for the Launch event are £5 available by phoning 01992 584322

Courtyard Arts is partnering with Hertford Town Council to run the Arts Trail.

Langley End Studio at Art Fair East

We were absolutely thrilled to be selected for Arts Fair East.

Not long to go now.

Come along, see the work, say hi.

We look forward to seeing you very soon.

Don’t forget to show your free ticket, see below.

Gill, Karen and Jo




In conversation with… Jo Howe

How would you describe your creative practice?

My creative practice is as essential to me as breathing. It feels very much part of what makes me function. I see it as the way to express myself, some times to others, but primarily to myself. Gaining further understanding of my life’s experiences; the trials and tribulations as well as the joys and achievements.

I work predominantly with old books and book pages.  The book or page becomes a tool for looking inwards to our evolving personal narratives rather than the read contents of the book as text. I consciously work with the text to render it difficult to read, if not at times almost absent. The fragmentation, removal and disruption of text transforms words into visual clues. By resisting meaning in purely linguistic terms the reader is invited to respond at an intuitive and emotional level. In physically exploring text, removal of text, the page, book and restructured cover I seek to construct alternative narratives, which in turn generate new meaning.

Doodlecuts - Day Forty Three #50DaysCreating - JoHowe

Doodlecuts – Day Forty Three #50DaysCreating – Jo Howe

What are you working on at the moment?


I have for some considerable time worked on small pieces of work that exist alongside, I guess what I have always called my main practice, to keep me fresh, engaged and allow the brain to wander and explore. I have noticed that these projects tend to be bold, colourful and quite graphic in flavour. This process I have always considered integral and indeed essential to my practice as an artist. I have, many a time, unlocked new ideas, solutions to dilemmas and rather delightfully, wonderful new directions to creatively travel whilst being otherwise engaged in this  almost automatic activity.

For quite sometime, working with mount board, hand-made papers, print, collage and the scalpel, I produce, what I have termed as ‘doodle cuts’. They inevitably (bar the odd one or two dressing my studio wall and a few that made it into a book form), end up in the dark recesses of my litter bin.

As a way of honouring this process and to bring those little gems into the light, I decided on a #50DaysCreating project everyday from September 5, 2016 and there after for 50 Days, I produce and share online one doodle cut. I have also decided to show them at Art Fair East in December alongside my regular and more familiar work. I believe showing them together could offer a more complete picture of who I am as an artist and afford a greater insight into my particular creative behaviours.

Just behind my whisper - Jo Howe

Just behind my whisper – Jo Howe

What is the most asked question about your work?

Don’t you feel guilty destroying books? Yep, been asked that one a few times. Books bring up a lot of emotion. Books can represent so much to us, and be poignant reminders to events and emotions. It doesn’t surprise me that this question continues to arise. The preciousness of books is, of course, acknowledged but the irony of an attachment to a mass produced object is not lost on me.

My answer is always that I don’t believe I am destroying books but re-purposing so that it can be received in a new way, giving it new life. I do of course stress that I do not ‘re-purpose’ 1st editions (even though I find that an interesting thought in terms of the perceived value of ‘destruction’ that would alter how the work may be viewed) and that the books I work on would generally just sit on shelves, unread and awaiting their final burning destination (alas too many books are burnt rather than find their way to new homes).

Doodlecuts - Day Thirty Four #50DaysCreating - Jo Howe

Doodlecuts – Day Thirty Four #50DaysCreating – Jo Howe

Who or What inspires you?

I am inspired by so many things and so many people it is, rather delightfully, a never ending list. In terms of artists, to list a few such as Tom Phillips, Brian Dettmer, Jenny Saville, Tim Noble / Sue Webster, Pablo Lehmann.

I am particularly enchanted with the sunrise. I work early in the morning (yet another job to keep the financial wolves fron the door) and have the gift of driving through dawn most mornings, a sublime and diverse experience. A reminder of our miniscule scale in this amazing universe.

What are the benefits and/or pitfalls of working in a group studio space?

The benefits are huge. Being able to get excited about things that others don’t necessarily feel and understood. Discussing difficulties, stumbling blocks and drought periods with the knowledge of being heard and questioned. Just the gift of support, belonging and feeling really comfortable about being one of ‘those crazy artists’.

I will have time - Jo Howe

I will have time – Jo Howe

What do you hope to gain from showing at Art Fair East?

I am really open to this experience and interested in how my work will be received. I am looking forward to showing my doodle cut work together with my more traditional practice. This is a first and it will be interesting to see how the audience engage with them. I am really looking forward to meeting visitors and having conversations around the work. This really completes the works journey for me and often gives me a new insight that I find really rewarding. Of course on a practical note, I would hope to gain a vast level of sales, gallery recognition/contacts and connect with new artists too (just putting that out there into the universe) #YouNeverKnow



In conversation with… Gill Ayre

How would you describe your creative practice?

I am primarily a painter working with oils on canvas, and I also enjoy some printmaking and working with mixed media. My creative practice is an expression of my own emotional response to the natural world we live in. This is always my starting place, either captured in a quick sketch, or a photograph, or just notes scribbled down on a scrap of paper. I tend to have several canvases on the go at any one time (otherwise I would waste a lot of time watching paint dry!), so I usually start by working on an existing piece while the ideas for new work are gestating. A blank canvas can be quite daunting and intimidating, so I find it useful to just ‘spill’ some paint on, something quick drying, such as acrylic, just to get started. In fact I have recently found that working on top of old paintings can be a very liberating experience!
I tend to build a painting up in layers, dripping and splashing paint, as well as more definite mark making, and from there I let the process lead me. Invariably the painting ends up being quite different from my original vision, but that is part of the excitement of it – seeing where it leads me.


Hitchwood 2 – Gill Ayre

What are you working on at the moment?

Over the past couple of years at least I have been making work inspired by trees, but it seems I may be coming out of the woods and my recent inspiration has been the unique coastline of the east coast of England, specifically the salt marshes and reed beds of North Norfolk and parts of Suffolk.


Saltmarsh storm – Gill Ayre

What is the most asked question about your work?

The most asked question about my work is ‘Who or What inspires you?’
As I have said, the natural world is my source of inspiration:
the curves of a particular landscape; the tractor lines through wheat fields, or recently ploughed farmland; the receding layers of woods and hills to the horizon; the delicate tracery of branches in winter; trees receding in the mist in a dense woodland; dark clouds bleeding rain from their tattered edges; the vanishing point where sea merges with sky; sunlight and shadows playing on waves on the beach; a stormy sky against a bright field of yellow – all these things light me up and inspire me.
With regards to ‘who’ inspires me – well many people. Turner, of course, with his absolute mastery of light and atmosphere – in particular his unfinished work, which demonstrate where his interests really lay, before he added the ‘required’ subject matter to satisfy the expectations of the time. However there are numerous other artists whose work inspires me, some well known, some less so, and many of my artist friends – Kurt Jackson, Lewis Noble, Hughie O’Donoghue, Maggie Hamblin, Ian McIver, Barbara Rae, John Virtue …and the list goes on!


Sketchbook Cley marshes – Gill Ayre

What are the benefits and/or pitfalls of working in a group studio space?

I love working in a group studio space, with other artists. Previously, I was fortunate to have had a 5 year fellowship with Digswell Arts, and had a studio at the Forge in Digswell with other 9 artists and 10 printmakers. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and learnt the value of shared studios – you can learn so much from being alongside other artists, and watching their practice develop and change can be really inspiring.
So when I left I was determined to find a space I could share with others and was lucky enough to find a space which I share with fellow artists, and friends, Jo Howe and Karen Picton. We all bounce off each other, encourage each other, give constructive critiques of each others work, and spend a lot of time chatting over cups of tea! What’s not to like?


Marsh reflections – Gill Ayre

What do you hope to gain from showing at Art Fair East?

I feel that Art Fair East is an important development for the East of England and really want to support it. Exhibiting at an art fair is a great way to improve your profile as an artist, and is great opportunity to get feedback on current work, and meet and network with other artists and galleries. However, obviously the best feedback of all is to sell some work!