Arts

Alumni Focus: Class of ’07 – Janet Wootton

Each month Impact profiles a former Nottingham student. This month, we bring you Janet Wootton.

Janet Wootton’s career includes 19 years as a professional journalist, television work, public relations, a job at Number 10 and more recently a move into experimental art. She graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in Fine Art in 2007 and recently completed an MA at Nottingham Trent. Her first solo exhibition “A Journey into Sustainable Art” takes place from 12 September t0 13 October as part of the Spotlight Gallery at the Newark Town Hall.

We live in a highly competitive world and most of the time it’s who you know. My father wrote a bit of sport but didn’t offer many connections. Fortunately, somebody in the village knew the owners of the Nottingham Evening Post and I managed to get an interview to become a trainee journalist at 17. I figured I could catch up with my education along the way.

Women have come a long way. I remember being asked on careers day, “So, do you want to be a secretary or a teacher?” I didn’t want to do either of those things! Even after I got into the business, I never saw myself as a women’s page writer. I was gunning for Industry Correspondent, which was unheard of at the time.

Never balk at corporate work. I produced two in-house newspapers for customers and staff at the Greater Nottingham Co-operative Society. I stayed with them for two years before my big break when I joined the Central Office for Information and my work with the government.

I lived and worked in London before moving back to the East Midlands. I was working as a Press Officer in the Prime Minister’s Office at the time when my husband saw a radio and television job advertised in Nottingham. I began work for the Independent Broadcasting Authority regulating commercial radio and securing licences. It was a whole new field for me.

I turned my hobby into a career. I wasn’t particularly good at art at school. But I’d worked in the creative industries all my professional life and it seemed like a natural progression. Some years ago, a friend and I started taking classes with the local art teacher and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I am offering corporate art as part of my communications business.

Nottingham is where the formal part of my education started. I was given the opportunity to study part-time over six years while I was working in public relations. It provides a real opportunity for people who feel they couldn’t manage a full-time degree for whatever reason or, like me, who came to it late in life.

People always ask me, “What kind of artist are you?” I’m a process artist for want of a better term. I work with materials and very rarely have preconceived ideas about what art should be. My guiding principle is that art should be about inspiration and realisation and not necessarily all about the end product. At the moment my passion is for art with a sustainable message.

I want my art to be part of a wall rather than sitting on it. This extends to having a structural role. My current project “Art in Walls” involves big pieces of art that can be recessed into constructions. I also look beyond the cladding of buildings and at substructures such as piping and wiring and I interpret them as art.

More artists should be responding to global issues like climate change. I did some work with local schools raising awareness of sustainability in art and have run workshops that aim to promote recycling in the local community. This September I will be handing over two large pieces of process art that were commissioned for the Bluecoat Academy in Wollaton.

Find out more at http://www.janetwootton.com/

Izzy Scrimshire

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