Stonehaven Artist Jen is making waves

Jen Stephen
Jen Stephen

A love of the sea helped Stonehaven artist Jen Stephen to make waves at the Gray’s School of Art annual Degree Show.

Jen (60) will graduate from Robert Gordon University (RGU) with a BA (Hons) in Painting this July and chose to focus on abstract objects from the sea in her final year exhibition.

The artist took inspiration from a visit to Orkney in 2014 and based several of her exhibition pieces on shapes derived from photos she took of an abandoned shipwreck.

Originally from Inverallochy near Fraserburgh, Jen worked for BP for more than 30 years in several roles which took her around the world. After she left the company Jen, who had always been a keen painter, decided to take her interest further.

She said: “I dabbled in painting for more than 20 years but after I stopped working I wanted to do the degree so enrolled in a series of Gray’s short courses and it went from there.

“My father and grandfather were fishermen so I’ve always been interested in the sea. It seemed natural that I would focus on it for my final year exhibition.”

Jen also created other pieces which highlighted the continuing mass accumulation of non-biodegradable rubbish in the North Pacific which is blighting sea life and damaging sensitive maritime eco-systems.

She said: “The North Pacific ‘garbage gyre’ is a combination of both natural and man-made forces which has become a vast receptacle for society’s discarded indestructible plastic waste.

Jen said: “My fascination is in part due to the unbelievable scale of the gyres and a sense of horror at the inadvertent casualness in which we leave this kind of mark on the planet.”

Keen to take on her next challenge after completing her degree, Jen will participate in a round the world yacht race later this year, sailing the first leg from London to Rio. In April 2016 she will also tackle the San Francisco to New York leg, via the Panama Canal.

Jen said: “I love sailing and can’t wait to get going in the yacht race. It promises to be a good adventure.”