Jo Manby paints imaginary scenes in which flowering plants blossom across subtle, shimmering backgrounds. Birds and butterflies alight on twisting stems and branches. Wild and cultivated flowers are captured in a refined decorative style.
Emulsions are used to develop chalky or satiny coloured grounds for intricate paintings inspired in part by nature writing and in part by the small environmental details all around us. Hedgerow wildflowers like campion and dog roses, and birds such as chaffinches and greenfinches, are often taken for granted but have a miraculous beauty of their own. Brought up in the countryside, Jo revisits and celebrates this magical quality in her work.
Influenced by the historic chinoiserie style that conflates Chinese and British design, particularly its ornamental flowering trees, curvilinear and arabesque forms and layering of subtle but intense colour, Jo’s works depicting birds such as parakeets or birds of paradise reveal her passion for vivid colour harmonies and intricate compositions. She also undertakes commissions for paintings and murals, and creates bespoke items such as multi-panelled, hand-painted screens.
Exhibitions include solo shows at Parsonage Trust Gallery, Manchester; Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool; Vanbrugh College, University of York and Stonegate Gallery, York. Joint and group shows have included MMU Special Collections, Stockport Art Gallery, Astley Cheetham Art Gallery, Bankley Studios Gallery, Portico and Bureau in Manchester; The Whitaker Museum, Rossendale; Hanover Gallery, Edinburgh and Brantwood, Coniston. Her work is in private collections in the UK, France, Italy and the US.
A freelance painter, editor and writer, Jo has longstanding experience of curating and project management in galleries and museums. She has practiced as an artist and art critic since graduating in English Literature and Art History at the University of York following a Foundation Art course at North Staffordshire University and currently edits online art journal, the Fourdrinier.
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