Sounding Art





Jane Mackay was born in London but spent many of her early years in Cambridge. As a child she was a prolific painter and, intrigued by rudimentary chemistry experiments in the family kitchen, she also immersed herself in the sciences. She attended King's College, London, and Westminster Medical School where she helped to found an annual Arts Festival.

After qualifying as a doctor in 1970 she volunteered for a post in Papua New Guinea, returning to London in 1976 to practise as a GP. She relinquished medicine at the millennium in order to pursue her artistic career full time.

Her career as an artist has evolved along a similarly unconventional path. Though her choice of subjects is wide-ranging, her main passion is painting music. Fascinated by the relationship between the visual and auditory parts of the brain she captures and commits to paper the images she visualises when listening to music. She has found these synaesthetic images a constant source of creative inspiration and, together with her love and knowledge of the classical repertoire, fundamental to her life as an artist. She is both a choral singer and an oboist. Jane is best known for her Britten Series paintings, over two hundred of which are distributed in collections worldwide.

Jane has exhibited extensively in the UK, including solo shows at the Salisbury and Aldeburgh Festivals, at London's Wigmore Hall and at the RNCM Broadwood International Festival in Manchester. She has also exhibited at the Watercolours and Drawings Fair (Royal Academy) and the Art and Antiques Fair (the Spring Olympia). During the academic year 2000-2001 she was Artist in Residence with Cambridge University Musical Society and held two major exhibitions in Cambridge during this residency. There followed solo exhibitions at the Royal School of Church Music and St. John's, Smith Square, London. In December 2003 she was invited to take part in the Florence Biennale. More recently Jane has held solo shows at the Ludlow, Aldeburgh and Tewkesbury Festivals, and in Herefordshire as part of the English Choral Experience course at Abbey Dore.

Her work has attracted considerable media attention and has featured in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Guardian and Evening Standard newspapers, and Radio Times, Church Times and BBC Music Magazine. She has been featured on the BBC Online News and her TV appearances have included This Morning with Richard and Judy (Granada) and Come To Your Senses with Adam Hart-Davis (BBC 2) and in 2006 the Child of Our Time series (BBC1) plus an interview during a BBC4 Prom Concert broadcast in the same year. She has taken part in films for the Handel House Museum, Discovery TV, BBC2 Horizon and Icon Films for Channel 4 and a 3-part documentary for South Korean TV (2008). An interview about her work on the Philharmonia Orchestra website is currently also available on YouTube (2012). Design work has included cards for The Musicians Benevolent Fund, Wigmore Hall and the Bach Choir; CD cover designs for Hyperion and Collins Classics and jacket illustrations for Oxford University Press, Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers and The Boydell Press. In 2007 she collaborated with Dr Andrew Plant, musicologist and Britten specialist, on a book of her paintings and commentary on Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw, a limited edition of 300 signed and numbered copies (available from Boydell and Brewer publishers).

Jane has designed and organised several art courses for adult beginners including a late-night workshop at the Hayward Gallery on the South Bank as part of the Dan Flavin retrospective.

She paints from her studio, a converted loft overlooking the rooftops and gardens of South London. 2013 saw exhibitions in Salisbury's Medieval Hall and the Watercolour Fair, Science Museum, London; 'Gloriana' in the Cinema Gallery, Aldeburgh Festival, and various venues alongside Matthew Barley's concerts as part of his 'Around Britten' Tour taking place throughout 2013. 2014 included programme and CD cover designs (Whitehall Choir); participation in a book by Chinese neurologist, Dr Huang Chenya (Medicine and Art); an Open Studio weekend in May; and continued collaboration with Dr Plant on the compilation of her catalogue raisonné, which currently includes over 1500 works. In addition, Jane embarked on a two year Masters degree course at Wimbledon College of Arts.

Jane gained her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in July 2016 after two years studying at at Wimbledon College of Arts, University of Arts, London. Her work has recently been included in a Polish language book about Nabokov and synaesthesia by Anna Ginter, in the University of Lodz. In August 2016, Jane was signed up for an on-going project with the Swedish interior design company Photowall (see the News Page for more information).

2017 saw an exhibition at St Stephen's Church, Fulham as part of the annual Festival of Arts and Faith. Plans for the next two years include two exhibitions of music paintings at Kensington Park School & Chelsea Independent College, and a collaboration with members of a professional string quartet to launch a new festival of 'art, music and synaesthesia' in Dublin, in early 2019.