Janet Hyland is an Irish painter and writer. Influenced by British artist L.S. Lowry, using “Lowry colors”, she paints in the naïve and icon traditions. She calls herself, more than anything, a sign painter and her pictures Plain Paintings. The Quaker Meeting, to the right, uses pastels and is mounted on wood. Pillars of Power is a painting of a Meeting for Worship that gathered on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral during the time of the Occupy encampment there. As well, many of her paintings are of English and foreign village scenes. Hyland writes a blog, Janet Hyland’s Paintings: Scribbles on Wood, commenting on Quakers, travel, painting, family, pop culture and her goth teenage years. Several of her paintings appear in the blog.
Hyland is an Irish Quaker. She first became involved in Friends during a memorable visit to the Jordans Meetinghouse as a teenager in the 1970’s. She said, “That night I stepped out of my safe sheltered world into the endless vistas of possibility”. In 2017 she gave a talk at Britain Yearly Meeting on “The Art Behind Icons”.
Janet Hyland’s paintings are delightful. The Quaker Meeting is a charming picture of Friends. But her daughter Jessy’s observations about the painting say it best:
“It’s bizarre Mum. It looks right but it’s all wrong. What have you done to me? I don’t look like that. And why is the room moving? They seem to be floating. And where’s the light coming from? There’s no real shadows. And what’s the daffodil doing between the dark twins. It sort of goes up through the man sitting bolt upright to the light above. That man’s leg is just an arch and he has no hands. And why are their eyes all open? What are they looking at? That bench is weighed down at one end which isn’t possible. Is that a young boy or girl sitting next to the old man? They sit together but they look the other way. Nothing is real and nothing fits, like things aren’t in proportion and other bits are missing…and yet it does sort of fit and it feels calm and peaceful.”
Hyland’s blog also contains wonderful pieces, especially “The Memory Twig Tree”.