Alternative ways of living and making art
at Hospitalfield in the 1970s
Written by Cicely Farrer, Programme & Communications Manager
Watch In Conversation with Jann Haworth
When talking about her approach to practice, the artist Jann Haworth said, “I think the artist’s normal is to see the world in terms of alternatives”*. Since talking with Haworth over the last few months, I see this sentiment as relevant both in her approach to her art work but also to ways of living, education and even in her memories of how she encountered Hospitalfield during her stays here in the 1970s.
Jann Haworth is an artist who first gained acclaim in the 1960s as part of the Pop Art movement in the UK for her ‘soft sculptures’. Haworth came to Hospitalfield three times in the 1970s with her young family and then husband Sir Peter Blake shortly after they had created their most renowned collaborative work the cover of The Beatles’ 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Haworth recently had a major retrospective ‘Close Up’ at Pallant House Gallery earlier in 2020. Based in Salt Lake City Utah, Haworth is currently working on a major mural titled the Utah Women Project depicting 240 women, both historical and contemporary, as part of the centenary celebrations of the ratification of women’s voting rights 26 August 1920.
Hospitalfield in the 1970s
Hospitalfield was still known by its original name The Patrick Allan Fraser Art College and was run as a summer school for students from the major art schools in Scotland to attend outside of term time. Artist Malcolm Fryer was Director of the art school from 1970-76 at a time when the Art College was navigating financial instability as the art world and art education were changing significantly. The Scottish Education Department had made ambitious recommendations for Hospitalfield as part of national reforms. In 1970, just as Fryer came into his position, the role of Warden at Hospitalfield was shifting from a purely didactic position to a more managerial function. Fryer was obliged to speedily develop new systems of educational accountability and financial viability which were never fully resolved during his tenure.
Students ate in the Refectory, where artist residents continue to eat now, worked in the Studios, read books in the House and played volleyball in the Courtyard. The gardens were used for growing vegetables, foraging could be done in local woods and berry produce was acquired from nearby farmers in Angus.
Peter Blake and Malcolm Fryer with students c1975 in the Refectory at Hospitalfield.
Jann Haworth was at Hospitalfield in the summers of 1973, 75 and 76 with her young daughters Liberty and Daisy. Her then husband, Sir Peter Blake, had been invited to teach as Artist in Residence and so was in the studios with the students. Jann’s experience of Hospitalfield was neither as a student nor a tutor. She had been exhibiting widely with solo exhibitions at Arnolfini Bristol, Sidney Janis Gallery in New York and participating in major group shows in the UK and USA. Her trips became beloved summer escapes to Scotland where she could delve into the wonders of Angus. These are fond memories closely affiliated with her formation of personal practices of growing, home-brewing and mushroom and berry foraging. Auchmithie holds particular value for Jann and her daughters; they could find minerals including jasper and agate with hues of rust red, golden yellow and ochre on the pebble beach.
Pebbles on the beach at Auchmithie, 2018. Photo courtesy of Scott Byrne.
In Jann’s accounts of Hospitalfield, many of her ways of living at the College were influenced by ideas of self-sufficiency which were circling around the UK and the USA at that time. These ideas meant to live a life closer to nature, removed from the ‘dependent’ industrial lifestyle. At the time she was influenced by the artist Robin Tanner and writers such as John Seymour who in 1976 wrote The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency and Richard Mabey (Food for Free, 1972). In the UK this was often a politicised, ecological ‘move’ but as Jann explained, also associated with her becoming a mother and exploring alternative educational ideas and initiatives for children. In her reading of Seed Magazine as well as researching the Summerhill School, she had come across the 1944 Education Act which states that “children must be educated in school or otherwise”. This last word ‘otherwise’ was the impetus for Haworth to initiate an arts and crafts primary school called the Looking Glass School in 1978 in Somerset.
In this spirit, Hospitalfield became the site of much home-brewing during her stays. One well-loved recipe that Jann created on her first visit to Hospitalfield was a homemade raspberry wine ‘scrumpted’ from a nearby Angus berry farm. Despite everything being oddly wrong in the recipe, the taste was utterly divine. On her return, in the summers after, the wine had become part of the Hospitalfield repertoire and Fryer had brewed large vats for the students and staff to enjoy.
Raspberry wine recipe by Jann Haworth
3lbs / 1.3kg of raspberries into a gallon / 3.8 litres of boiling water and left to stand as ‘must’ for 3 days in a vat, bucket or bowl.
Tie a clean tea towel over the contained and tie down with string.
A ceramic bowl is better than a plastic bucket.
Keep OUT fruit flies they will turn your wine to vinegar.
Stir and strain through a clean cheese cloth bag into your fermenting jars.
Add brewers yeast, perhaps a rose yeast and up to 3 lbs / 1.3kg of sugar. I usually only added 2- 2.5 lbs. as I didn’t want the wine to be sweet.
Insert the air lock and lightly plug the out tube of that with a bit of paper kitchen towel. Keep on the back of the Aga on a wooden trivet [the cooler left size] or in the cupboard with the hot water heater.
The wine is wicked when it works…
Development photo of berries taken by artist Sarah Rose, 2019.
Making Art in the 70s
As a woman in the Pop art movement in 1960s & 70s Britain, Jann was one of a few exceptions and has only in recent years been acknowledged more widely despite exhibiting at the time. She had studied at the Slade School of Art where she had chosen to work with textiles. She saw textiles as an appropriate material that was unexplored and with which she had years of experience having made her own clothes since she was a child in Hollywood. Haworth was also acutely aware that it gave her an advantage over male colleagues who were not versed with the language and skill of turning a 2D material into a 3D object. Her figurative soft-sculptures often depicted feminist critiques of iconic figures and symbols from Hollywood film and pop culture.
Jann Haworth, circa 1965, with Maid (1966) in her London studio.
Behind her is a banner by Pop artist Richard Lindner and, at right, a wardrobe
by Joe Ephgrave, who painted the drum on the artwork Haworth and Peter Blake
created for the Beatles’s Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album cover. Photo: John Near.
Mae-West, 1965. Jann Haworth.
During the years that Jann came to Hospitalfield, she conceptualised, designed and stitched numerous masks. These pieces were more abstracted than previous works and informed by both theatre and film. The masks represent a shift in Jann’s approach to her soft sculptures as she started to include more emotion and subjectivity in her work. The images that are depicted on the masks, for instance the greens, yellows and browns of foliage in Landscape Mask, are like projections of an interior imaginary onto a face. A technique not dissimilar to how the credits for the film Gold Finger were projected onto the body of a model.
Landscape Mask, Jann Haworth, 1973
Brick Clown Mask, circa 1973, Jann Haworth
Jann’s construction and making of these masks relied on first creating a 3D pattern for the construction of a face. This patchwork pattern broke up a face into little flat planes. Anytime an area curved too much, it was necessary to start a new patchwork pattern piece: “If something is very curved like the nostril then you will cut the tapestry canvas on the bias so that you can curve the nostril ‘flare’ round and in… lips ditto. So this is all edge to edge paper pieces…..Then using the paper pieces as your pattern, you cut the tapestry canvas out adding a seam allowance all round and sew them all together and bingo you have a tapestry canvas face that you then embroider.”
In 1975 Sir Peter Blake, Jann Haworth and a group of other artists and painters set up a an artist group called the Brotherhood of Ruralists in Somerset who aimed to “revive and update the vein of imaginative painting of romantic figure subjects in idyllic rural settings”. Inspired by the prospect of self-sufficiency and the lush greens of the English countryside as well as the work of the Pre-Raphaelites, the group created an experimental rural project which had some tangents with Hospitalfield’s founding idea as a rural experiment, out of artistic centres.
The group showed together over several years and in the late 70s, were together commissioned to create the imagery for the covers of the well loved Arden Shakespeare publications. Jann’s contributions to this was the cover for the edition Macbeth. Made around the time of being at Hospitalfield, she created a terracotta mask with a sworded crown and an expression of the ‘tragedy’ face so infamous from theatrical masks. The mask, with its three heads on top, reminds me of the highly expressive faces carved into the red sand stone walls on the facade of Hospitalfield. Haworth and Blake both left the group in the early 80s.
Two elements of Jann’s practice have been most prominent when talking: her commitment to the craft and the process of making, and her impulse toward collaborative working. This is seen throughout her art practice across painting and textiles, her work in creating children’s books in the 80s as well as her work in alternative and artistic education in the UK and USA, more recently in her role as Creative Director of the Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City where she created a number of large scale projects with local communities.
The project that Jann has been developing during lock down titled The Utah Women Project – a major mural depicting 240 women who have created an impact in the State of Utah which will launch in late August 2020. The creation of this work has involved working remotely with hundreds of members of the community in Salt Lake City and across the whole of Utah to decide on and create the stencil portraits from photographs while at home during the Pandemic lock down. The original intention of this large collaboratively created project was that the portraits would be created with individuals and groups together in workshop scenarios. Social distancing has meant that Jann could also invite international contributions to the process including five created in Scotland.
Section from: Jann Haworth and Liberty Blake, Work in Progress, 2016 (ongoing), vinyl.
Photography credit: Alex Johnstone © Courtesy of the artist.
This mural demonstrates Jann’s painterly pop art style and is part of a body of her work revisiting the iconic artwork made for the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The original artwork was produced in 1967 and was designed by Peter Blake and Haworth. She has referred to the work as “a patchwork vision that’s being put forward” and in her description of the process of making the collaged set and photograph. To create the work, Haworth and Blake had asked The Beatles to name their heroes, when the list came back there were no women mentioned. In the end just a third of the figures shown on the cover were selected by The Beatles, the rest were put forward by Jann and Peter, including one of Jann’s soft sculptures of a figure on the extreme right hand side. Jann revisited the cover work in 2004 with ‘SLC Pepper’ and in 2016 with ‘Work-in-Progress’ (with Liberty Blake), as a way of revising the decisions originally made in deciding which ‘icons’ were featured and why.
The new most ambitious mural in Utah, conceived with her son Alexander and her daughter Liberty, depicts 240 women who are a part of the character of Utah. The portraits are currently being photographed and collaged digitally, and will be printed onto 55ft tall weatherproof banners displayed on the side of the Dinwiddy Building in the centre of Salt Lake City in celebration of the 2020 centennial, supported by Zions bank.
Haworth’s memories of Hospitalfield and Angus demonstrate a different kind of attention given to her surroundings, not dissimilar to the ways many people have been noticing each other and nature more in lock down. Shortly before we published this article, Jann explained to me how part of her connection to the beach at Auchmithie relates to the colour pallet that is possible to see in her paintings and murals: “What you see at first is an expanse of brown and grey pebbled shore-line. As you look more carefully you are surprised to see rocks with fire-engine red streaks in them, some with red that dominates the colouring, then you see ochres verging on bright golden yellow.”
Talking to Jann really emphasised the importance for artists not only to create work here but also to be immersed here: from its grand appearance seeped in artistic and architectural histories to its location on the edge of the North Sea; a place that Haworth suggests is “oddly well matched to an artistic temperament.”
Jann Haworth was in conversation with Cicely Farrer on Friday 10 July. Watch online
Image of Jann Haworth. Courtesy of the artist.