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Mary Jane Ansell

Liberty Rests

With a new solo exhibition due in September at the Fairfax Gallery in London, it seemed a good time to ask Mary Jane Ansell a few questions about her work and how her paintings came to adorn the cover of Adam's latest album
Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter

How long did the girl in the cocked hat paintings take you to do and when were they started?

The idea for the series featuring Georgie and the Cocked Hat came about in late 2009. I'd just painted a small piece called Toy Soldiers, a girl wearing a red Guardsman's uniform and the ideas behind that painting sparked off the Cocked Hat series.
I worked on that series for about 10 months really intensely culminating in a solo show in Sept 2010. I'm still fascinated by some similar themes, as you can see with Liberty Rests! There's a narrative running through them that is really personal but also has a wider commentary. Beauty, Art, War, Patriotism all feature and as a portrait painter I'm also fascinated with historical costume...

Why the subject as they were, the model, the hat, the military feel?

Georgie is a constant inspiration, as are the two or three other models I regularly work with, add to that the military themes that I've already mentioned, some beautiful costume and a great location and that series flowed very naturally... in the show opening this coming September I've taken all these theme further and I'm excited to see what people make of them.
It's fascinating to hear the responses that come, people read so many different interpretations into a work and that's how it should be I think.

Why two in the Cocked Hat series?

There were actually several more variations but I think those two pieces worked best together.
I'm always glad when a collector keeps a series together, even better when it's a collector like Adam!

When did Adam buy them?

I think Adam saw Girl in a Cocked Hat in late spring of 2010, he simply happened to walk past my gallery in Chelsea one evening and saw her in the window.

How many did he buy?
(I think that he bought 4)

That's right. I think Adam knew right away that was the image he wanted for the album cover and once the rest of the show was completed Adam spotted several others he wanted.
He has such an extraordinary aesthetic sense of course so it's hugely flattering!

  • Girl in the Cocked Hat

  • Girl in the Cocked Hat II

  • Girl Reflected

  • The Beauty of the Hours

  • Adam recalls

    I was walking around a quiet lane just off the Fulham Road minding my own business when I first saw her.
    The Girl in the Cocked Hat,
    gazed out at me and I was unable to escape her eyes, I was hooked.

    There was my "Gunner's Daughter" the face of my new album.

    Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter vinyl

    Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter vinyl

    Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter CD

    Further enquiries about the artist
    Mary Jane Ansell and the brilliance and extraordinary quality of her work soon led to the purchase of "Girl in the Cocked Hat" and two other works from that series.
    I had become an early patron of Mary Jane Ansell and consider myself very fortunate to have done so.
    The British art scene can look forward to a fresh burst of vitality and beauty from the brush of Mary Jane!

    Adam Ant

    I know that you've gone through the process of how you paint your pictures on your site, but can you describe again for the ones used for the album?

    My paintings start with a light charcoal sketch on a gessoed wood or aluminium panel. I build up layers of monochrome oils, starting with broad values and those specific marks that give a likeness and the feel I want, then I gradually add colour with both transparent glazes and full bodied colour, we see so much imagery through a screen these days but I like to give the paintings a quality that only seeing them in the flesh can really convey, I've always loved paintings that work both up close and from a distance... it takes longer to work this way but I love the qualities it gives.

    Cocked Hat drawing

    Were you a fan of Adam before he got in touch with you or at least knew of his career?
    Yes! very much so - I was too young to see him play live the first time round but growing up in the eighties I was hugely influenced by those videos, those songs, that look... of course!
    He is a force of creativity and that has always been inspiring - and that he has always forged something unique while drawing on the past couldn't be more relevant to me in a way!
    Friend or Foe was one of the first records I ever bought as a ten year old! To have come full circle in a sense, seeing my paintings on the album cover and to end up, along with Georgie, in one of his video's (Cool Zombie) was wonderful, a very special experience.

    Mary Jane's solo exhibition starts on 24th September at Fairfax Gallery, 27 Cork Street, London, further details on the gallery website here

    Adam Ant's album Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter is available here

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