Press release: Orwell’s influence on artists will be UK exhibition first

August 25, 2011, Letchworth, Hertfordshire, UK.  A free week-long exhibition at the George Orwell Festival 2011 showcasing four distinctive and thought-provoking artistic styles will be the first event dedicated to exploring how Orwell and his ideas continue to influence non-literary creative disciplines. ‘Art With A Message’ at the Festival Gallery, 38-40 Leys Avenue, Letchworth, Herts., (10th/12th-17th September) will present Festival goers and Letchworth shoppers with a unique opportunity to view 20 new works by artists Lotte Farnham, Jui Pin Chang, Jan Kilcoyne and Rebecca Leek.

“Orwell’s influence on the contemporary art is less well known than his influence on other forms of creative expression, such as film and drama,” says exhibition co-curator Sue Lines. “But in fact his ideas resonate strongly with many artists, in terms of politics, cultural interpretation, and societal phenomena. His interest in engaging readers at an emotionally symbolic level, as well as an intellectual one, provides much scope for connection.”

Lines adds: “Even visitors to the exhibition who know the Orwell canon will find themselves considering him from a multiplicity of new perspectives. Each of the four featured artists have related to him in very different ways, and from different stylistic approaches.”

Lotte Farnham explores themes of human relationships using anthropomorphic qualities of everyday objects to represent the male and female.  Her work ‘Archetypal Memory Holes’ references Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, where as a means of censorship, embarrassing or politically correct documents are discarded. Other works such as Toe The Line and You Are Not Alone consider the Orwellian theme of surveillance. Says Lotte, “My work is primarily a reflection of the human condition: I give my images a hidden double meaning that may be influenced by politics, the Bible, or just everyday occurrences.”

Since her first exhibition in 2005, Jui Pin Chang’s ideas have developed in a more political direction with her Bucket Men paintings. “My works seek to recognise something of how individuals and ideologies become more sinister as they become less accountable,” says Jui. “No matter how brave our face to the world may appear, there’s a side of us that remains cowardly – each of us uses ‘a bucket on our heads’ to mask fear on our faces. Consciously or unconsciously we hide out in our ‘buckets’, and keep our emotions to ourselves.” Jui studied Chinese calligraphy, brush drawing, and Western Art at the University of Taipei.

Jan Kilcoyne’s work raises the viewer’s awareness of the printed book and its changing status both historically, and in an increasingly digitalised world. Her methodology starts from events unfolding in the news. Though her earlier work used layering methodologies such as stacking and repetition, she now realises her ideas more conceptually.  Jan has since concentrated her creativity within presentational strategies – manipulating the context within which the composing elements of her art work are placed. Jan studied English Literature at Newcastle University; she later embarked on a Fine Art degree at Loughborough University, graduating in 2011.  This Autumn she starts a Ph.D researching the ways in which the act of viewing is affected by the culture and politics of the time, which moves on from this concern present in the work for this exhibition.

Musician and storyteller Rebecca Leek will be bringing performance to ‘Art With A Message’. “My work explores the conflict and harmony when the spoken word and music collide,” Rebecca says. “I’m one half Classicist. I love the Ancient World with its politics, history and drama. Bringing the old into the 21st century with digital media is something I like engaging with.” Rebecca won’t be drawn on what her contribution will be. She says simply, “It will be fresh and performance-related”.

About ‘Art With A Message’  Part of the George Orwell Festival 2011, ‘Art With A Message’ showcases work by upcoming artists Lotte Farnham, Jui Pin Chang, Jan Kilcoyne, and Rebecca Leek. Each artist has strong but highly-individualised takes on Orwellian themes. The exhibition is curated by Sue Lines and Sue Hogg. It is open 10am-7pm, 10th/12th-17th September at The Festival Gallery, 38-40 Leys Avenue, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire SG6 3EW. Images of the artists’ works are available for media use. For further details contact Sue Lines, co-curator, Tel: +44 (0)1462 634573 / email:

About the George Orwell Festival  The George Orwell Festival 2011 takes place 9-18 September in Letchworth Garden City and the nearby village of Wallington, where Orwell lived. The Festival is a community-based multi-streamed week of events celebrating the life and work of this respected and influential author. It will showcase staged adaptations of Orwell’s stories, themed debates, an academic symposium, art exhibitions, comedy evenings, themed talks, and much more. Well-known speakers from the fields of literature, media, and culture, are appearing.

James Hayes – committee co-ordinator, Tel: +44 (0)777 3705894 / email:

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