About the Artist
Glasgow School of Art graduate Jack Frame looks poised to fulfil the lavish potential promised by his 2007 sell-out degree show.
If Charles Dickens was alive today and casting around for a name and persona to suit the character of a young aspiring artist with a poetic heat, the great novelist couldn’t find one more suited Jack Frame, who was born in Dickens’ home town of Chatham. At the age of just 25, Frame is already being hotly tipped to become one of Scotland’s most collectable contemporary artists.
Frame’s recent top-three finish in 2009’s prestigious Jolomo Awards for landscape painting has brought him to the attention of a wider audience. Yet, it would be wrong to pigeon hole him simply as a landscape painter. Certainly, looking at his recent paintings of trees, often delicately rendering on sheets of Perspex or glass, there seems to be so much more to them than a mere depiction of a landscape. Like Turner, he is always chasing the essence of the atmosphere. The trees themselves appear to take on human qualities. It’s as if, through the vehicle of the natural world, he is searching to place humans in context; to understand our place in an increasingly sterile global landscape.
His truly beautiful depictions of a cherry tree in full blossom, in the studio before heading off to the Jolomo Awards exhibition, invokes a mixture of emotions, sending this viewer off on a march around her memory banks in search of half-remembered lines of poetry about the fleeting nature of youth and beauty.
Describing himself as ‘magpie’ in his approach to his art, Frame is also a romantic in the way he engages his artistic sensibility – always striving to strip away the heaviness of a scene, be it in a landscape or figurative painting.
“I guess in the way Rembrandt kept returning to self-portrait as a means to charting the passage of time, I keep going back to trees as a way of understanding the world”, he explains.
“At the moment, the landscape is coming through the trees and I have to immerse myself in images of trees before I can move on. The tree works as a figure in the landscape for me at the moment.”
Although born and raised in Dickens’ old stomping grounds of Chatham and Rochester, it wasn’t until Frame moved to North to Glasgow to study at the city’s world famous school of art six years ago that he read anything by the celebrated Victorian novelist. In many ways, though, the young artist could have stepped straight out of the pages of Great Expectations or David Copperfield.
“There is not any real art in the family background,” he says. “My mum is the head teacher of a primary school in Rainham, Kent, while my dad is a science teacher in a secondary school in Gravesend. My older brother is studying for a PhD in space communication and my younger brother is a drummer – he’s on tour with his band at the moment. There seems to be a creative gene somewhere between me and my brothers. I think our parents gave us so many opportunities to do what we really wanted to do. Maybe this is what makes them good teachers.
“I once visited the school where my mother taught and my memory is of her drawing pictures for kids to go above their coat pegs based on the first letters of their names – apple for Adam and snail for Simon, for example. She seemed to love this hands-on, childlike approach to drawing.”