Curve gallery renamed: Clayden Gallery
Thursday 21 Jul, 2016
We were very saddened to hear about the death of Island artist Jenny Clayden, earlier in May this year.
Jenny Clayden was a passionate individual who championed work by children and young people on the Isle of Wight, to freely express themselves in arts activities. She also helped to create a gallery space, the Learning Curve Gallery at Quay Arts as a platform to show their work alongside established artists.
With this in mind, in July we re-named the gallery as the Clayden Gallery, in recognition of Jenny’s commitment, enthusiasm and ingenuity in championing the creativity of young people on the Isle of Wight.
A plaque sits outside the gallery commemorating Jenny’s involvement at Quay Arts.
Jenny Clayden originally worked as a nursery and infant school teacher for over twenty years before a one-year postgraduate Theatre Design course taken in her late forties changed her direction. She then worked at the Young Vic, London, the West Kent Youth Theatre, as well as various semi-professional companies. She continued her youth theatre work for several years after moving to the Isle of Wight in 1989 and inspired several of her backstage youngsters sufficiently for them to subsequently take up successful careers in the business.
She exhibited widely across the South in solo and group shows including Chichester, Frome, Wimborne, Lymington, Havant, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. In 2014, Quay Arts staged a retrospective of Jenny’s work, ‘Figured Out’, presenting her handcrafted papier mâché figures, made over the previous twenty years. These character studies ranged from life-size to thumb-size, from the hilariously comical to the beautifully poignant, all with a wonderful air of humour and spontaneity that was unmistakeably Jenny.
She was always passionate about the power of art to inspire children and young people and for many years, she voluntarily gave her time and creative imagination to offer free arts activities for families at Quay Arts, a legacy which will continue thanks to the support from the Daisie Rich Trust.
In 1999, Jenny organised a Mad Hatter’s Parade in Newport and a Tea Party at Quay Arts, in order to raise funds to convert what was a first-floor storage room in the building into the Learning Curve Gallery, a space for children and young people to explore and display their work to the public. Ten years later she created a giant birthday cake in the gallery, to celebrate its achievement.
Jenny Clayden 1932 – 2016
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Photo credit: David George