Read has exhibited her colour-saturated paintings from Quebec to Alberta. Most recently, extensive travels in the high arctic resulted in a new body of work, High Arctic Light shown in 2019 at the Gallery at the LE Shore Library in Thornbury, the fall of 2020 at the Propeller Art Gallery in Toronto and at the Heliconian Club of Toronto in June 2022.
This ongoing body of work presents “landscapes of consciousness” from a month’s immersion in high Arctic geography visiting Pond Inlet, Grise Fjord and areas of Devon, Philpotts, and Ellesmere Islands as well as coastal Greenland.
Paintings reference the artist’s “being” in the natural world and encounters with those for whom the high north is both wild and home. The paintings are reflective of the artist’s personal experience, always aware that indigenous voices must be heard to tell their own stories and history. The work tells the story of a visitor, a sojourner to a remote and sublime region of Canada.
Janet is a painter, musician, and poet, who grew up near the shores of Lake Simcoe. She has sought the water’s edge ever since. Born and educated in Toronto, her settler roots go back to the Ottawa Valley Irish, Belfast, and county Wexford in Ireland. Perhaps this explains a fondness for fiddle music, poetry and the sea.
Residencies in Newfoundland and Ireland, and travels in Norway, Iceland, and Scotland allowed her continued access to the sea, leading to a lifetime investigation of water as a metaphor for strength and fragility. Read holds an MA in the philosophy of art; focusing on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Paul Ricoeur and the role of metaphor in art.
In 2014 her work occupied one gallery of a three gallery themed exhibit at the F.H. Varley Gallery in Unionville titled, Colour, In Theory, curated by Anik Glaude. A solo exhibit curated by Carla Garnet titled Janet Read, An Abstract Practice was shown in tandem with New Century Abstracts at the Art Gallery of Peterborough, Ontario in 2013.
Her work has been shown in public and commercial galleries including a recent large solo exhibit, with catalogue, titled Ocean as Vessel at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario and a well received duo exhibit at the Whitby Station Gallery titled, Sublunary, dealing with the elements of earth, air and fire.
Along with ten other OSA artists, Janet participated in the pARTners project collaborating with a recent art school graduate using video and Japanese paper within the parameters of the work. The exhibit opened in the Woodstock Public Gallery in November and toured six venues in Southern Ontario including the Japanese Paper Place in 2011-12.
Residencies in Newfoundland with the Pouch Cove Foundation and in Ireland on the Dingle peninsula have informed her love of the fluid and metaphorical nature of the sea and water.
Light over water and the emotional nuances of colour continue to fascinate her and inform her work. Light is in flux over water. Water is a changing medium, subject to many moods, provoking thoughts of transience and transcendence.
Read is a published author of a collection of poetry, Blue Mind’s Flower, shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Award in 1992 as well as two juvenile historical novels.
Gil McElroy, curator, writes:
…the real edges of our world are, in fact, profligate places fecund and abundant with life. The littoral is one such place, the shoreline, that zone where water meets land and where life thrives in its enormous and complex diversity.
As one who has spent times at the littoral edges of our world (Newfoundland on the edge of continental North America for one, and Great Blasket Island on the very western edge of Ireland and continental Europe for another) Janet Read knows this, and her paintings consequently comprise littoral equivalents where paint meets surfaces, she creates fecund places in which life thrives in its enormous visual complexity…
Read’s is an aesthetic of abundance.
“I pick up a brush and trace the path of wind and water, pick up a brush and aim towards the light.” Janet Read 2020