Jo Taylor Biography

Jo Taylor Contemporary British Artist

Jo Taylor (Born 1969)

Jo works in a variety of media on a large unrestrictive scale and her style is deliberately abstract with a bold use of colour. Her organic palette is scoured from the immediate landscape and the elements, reminiscent of the work of Prunella Clough and Graham Sutherland. Through her materials she describes muscle tensions and structures, which she was able to study during her residency at the Department of Veterinary Science at Liverpool University. This left Jo with an exceptional knowledge and understanding of animal physiology, leading The Times Art Critic, Rachel Campbell Johnson, to liken her use of anatomy to the artist George Stubbs.

These insights give Jo Taylor an understanding that is translated into paintings which contain a sculptural dynamism where the essence of the horse is exposed.

The recurring theme throughout the work of Jo Taylor is the ancient relationship between man, horse and the elements. Her work echoes the classical and renaissance masters as she celebrates the beauty of the beast whilst exploring how our world has evolved through theirs.

Rigorous life drawing and patient observation are the starting points for these visually arresting works. It is through watching, drawing and riding horses that Jo Taylor captures a sense of their power and presence. Like her influences Leonardo and Gericault, Jo is attracted to the expressive body of animals.

As explained by Jane Wheatley of The Times:
 “Jo does a lot of watching horses; in racing stables and on windy gallops, in the Camargue marshes and at Portuguese Horse Fairs, out in Montana cattle country and on the South African plains. Watching, looking, making sketches, remembering the lift of a hoof, the curve of a neck, the line of a muscle.”

These insights give Jo Taylor an understanding that is translated into paintings which contain a sculptural dynamism where the essence of the horse is exposed.

Jo Taylor has examples of her work in many collections including:

Lady Huntingdon                                                                            The Duke & Duchess of Bedford
The King Ranch, Texas                                                                   Lady Oaksey
Claibourne Stud, Kentucky                                                            Alan King
The Duke & Duchess of Westminster                                          Liverpool University
Nicky Henderson                                                                             The Earl Cadogan
Dalham Hall Stud, Suffolk                                                             Plantation Stud, Suffolk
The National Centre for Zoonotic Research                               Mrs D Nicholson

She has had solo exhibitions at

2012 – The Jockey Club
2012 – The Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool
2010 – Lena Boyle Fine Art, London
2002 – 2012 Campden Gallery, Gloucestershire
2001 – 2013 Thompsons Gallery, London
The National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket

Why is anatomy important to your work and you?

It is important for me to work from the inside out. As artist in Residence at the University of Liverpool Veterinary Department at Leahurst I have had access to drawing horses during operations and post mortems. This experience has I hope helped me achieve a deeper understanding of my subject.  I believe that it is important to see what is under the skin in order to get the outside right.

Why is seeing live animals important?

Working from life not only gives me a deeper understanding of my subject but also creates energy in my work. There is no chance that my subject will remain still therefore the working conditions for the life drawings create an urgency in the sketches which later infuses the paintings. Weather, timing, being observed, unpredictable animals – they all make you focus. What I am interested in is combining a sense of anatomy with capturing a moment in time. To me, economy of the drawn line from life has far greater impact than the photograph.  The energy which life drawing creates in my work often results in streaming, fluent lines unspooling in charcoal, graphite and paint.

I have travelled to find my subjects – visiting the Spanish Corrida, riding with the Gauchos on the plains of Patagonia, watching the Thoroughbreds on the dirt tracks of America and wandering the Indian deserts on the back of a Marwari horse in a quest to explore my subject and its ancient relationship with man.

Why have you tried different screen printing techniques?

I work with the master printmaker Kip Gresham who has a wealth of experience and an eye for knowing which printmaking techniques work for individual artists. Screen printing suits my drawing by the directness of the medium. Kip has developed a range of techniques within screen printing which allows the medium to print wash, tone and line with the same fluidity, delicacy and refinement of any other process. We use graphite, wash, and cut paper on truegrain to create the key to the final image.  We have also experimented with etching, spitbite and pepperpot aquatint for tone and line work. Printmaking is always a liberating process as the result cannot be completely controlled. As an artist, you work within your vision but the printing techniques and processes always introduce surprises.

The tradition of printing interests me and as I am from a family of engravers and printers it seems a natural medium for me to work with.  And you can’t beat the smell of the print room for inspiration…

Which other techniques would you like to work with?

Sculpture.  I want the viewer to feel as though they could walk round the other side of my paintings. From this point of view it would be a natural progression to push the work into three dimensions using something expressive such as plaster or clay. At the moment I use collage in my paintings to accentuate muscle structure and movement so sculpture may be the way forward.

Would you like to give a quote to answer these questions generally?

I want the viewer to feel the heat, smell the sweat, taste the dust.