“My work is inspired by the minutiae of nature. I explore the detail, colour and form within the realm of nature and the environment. My wish is to share with the viewer my fascination with the beautiful and bizarre, in a world which we all too easily take for granted.” Yanny Petters
Yanny Petters’ Verre Églomisé panels are beautifully crafted and exquisitely rendered, drawing attention to those humble plants that most of us consider to be weeds. She says,
“Wild plants are an essential part of the symbiosis of the earth, giving humanity the basis for medicine, food, dyes and garden flowers as well as many other uses. I have always had a particular interest in Irish wild plants; the act of exploring paint techniques to depict these plants has been both fascinating and educational.”
It was whilst training as a signwriter that Yanny first came across the technique of Verre Églomisé and fascinated by the possibilities, she began to experiment and to develop her own unique style. Verre Églomisé involves painting on the back of glass using opaque colours and gold leaf and dates back to the Middle Ages. At that time, the typical subjects were religious icons and depictions of significant figures. The frequent use of gold leaf often made these panels very valuable and as the glass was hand blown, paintings on glass were restricted to small dimensions.
Yanny’s love of the illustrated Herbals of the 16th century has also influenced her creative path. These early illustrations of plants, used to identify medicinal varieties, were printed from engravings or wood cuts. Just as with the traditional Verre Églomisé, paper and vellum were very expensive and limited in size, so the artists had adapt the shapes of the plant into the available space to give a pleasing design, whilst still conveying accurate information, although sometimes with artistic licence. A couple of better known examples of these would be Tabernaemontanus whose prints are in John Gerarde’s ‘The Herball’ (1597) and Petrus A. Matthiolus (1565) whose cuts were copies from Leonard Fuchs (1545).
Yanny’s work is the product of many long hours of careful observation in the field. From these field drawings Yanny designs each panel on paper. The glass is then etched with acid, and in some pieces, she also engraves elements of the design giving the artwork a soft line and sparkle. Colour is applied in a series of carefully selected layers with the highlights being applied first. Gold leaf is applied to certain parts of the design giving a reflective quality to these areas. The finished painting is sealed with a layer of varnish or paint effect.
Her work can be found in many important collections, including Dr. Shirley Sherwood’s Gallery at Kew Gardens, London, and in the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin.
Yanny’s exhibition of Verre Églomisé panels, Floral Alchemy is currently on at The Olivier Cornett Gallery until May 24th 2013. Just like an Alchemist, in her hands weeds become as precious as gold, and pictures of wild plants become as valuable as icons.
For more information and how to get to the exhibition, go to www.oliviercornetgallery.com
Her work can be seen on her website www.yannypetters.net
A very interesting essay comparing Yanny’s painting of ‘An Irish Meadow’ to Albrecht Dürer’s ‘The Large Turf’ can be found here