A brand new art bar called Pallet is opening next week in Stowmarket's picturesque Old Fox Yard, adjacent to the existing art gallery Fox Yard Studio, taking its name and inspiration from the multiple meanings of a wooden 'pallet', artist 'palette' and gourmet 'palate'. Appropriately, the inaugural exhibition will feature the pallet and palette themed artworks of Loïs Cordelia and her partner Jasön Curtis.
Pallet Bar manager Ella-Marie Gill talks about the name: "Pallet: We took inspiration from pallets to design the bar itself and also the logo. Our logo represents a pallet alongside our chosen colour theme. Another main focus of ours is sustainability, for the site we chose to work with Will Build Developments who specialise in sustainable construction. Palette: We are an arts bar supporting local artists, showcasing their art on our walls which is for sale and will be changed every two months. We will also be having live painting taking place on the walls from more local artists, to create Murals. Palate: At Pallet we have had (many) drink tastings to find the right drinks for our customers. We have chosen a variety of local drinks, mainly from Suffolk. We have everything from wine, beer, coffee, spirits and more." Ella speaks about her own new role as Bar Manager: "I have always had a passion for hospitality since I started working in the industry when I was sixteen. As soon as I worked in a bar, I have never looked back. Being the Bar Manager of Pallet is a dream come true and I am so excited to be opening our doors Friday."
The idea for the exhibition came about quite spontaneously. When Ipswich-based artist couple Loïs and Jasön heard about the new art bar, they were immediately struck by the name 'Pallet' and its connection with their own work, specifically their mutual preference for unconventional canvases. With less than a week to prepare, they swiftly assembled a collection of original works, with several being created specifically for this - their first joint exhibition.
Jasön Curtis - Palette Knife Paintings on Reclaimed Wooden Pallet Boards
Recently renewing his focus on art after a lifelong career in engineering, Jasön Curtis prefers to be known as a 'creative spirit'. His work for Pallet includes an array of original nautical themed paintings onto recycled wooden pallet boards. He comments: "I may use brushes in my work, but prefer a blade, sponge, palette knife or Ka-bar, together with a keen eye and a broad imagination to envisage the scene and use the blade on wood to give the desired effect.
"The important thing when working with either wood or leather is to work with the beauty of nature's grain, flow with it, rather than battle against it. It's all ergonomics. As Bruce Lee said, 'Be like water'."
Water is a prevalent theme in Jasön's work. He reminisces: "Having spent most of my childhood in the Caribbean I have a fondness for blue skies, crystal waters and sailboats. But it was in the early 80s that my spiritual adventure started. My parents were both radicals, artists, adventurers, and very eccentric, hence I spent much of my time surrounded by great sculptors and artists of the period, who were a massive influence on me. It was a truly bohemian lifestyle, and I soaked it up.
"The late 90s was the pinnacle of my bohemian career. I reached my own personal plateau in short story writing, sculpting and poetry, winning a couple of prestigious titles. But I yearned for something a little more grounding, so I became an engineer. Fast forward 20 years and here I am today. The engineering story was good fun and working with the best manufacturers in the world was an opportunity I will always remember with fondness, but I'm back, back with my art, back with a glint in my eye and an imagination that's unsuppressed."
Since Jasön resumed his creative journey in August, he ploughed into painting with such enthusiasm that he very soon ran out of canvases. He stumbled on a pile of old wooden pallets in the garden. When he began chopping them up with an axe, he noticed how the natural wood grain caused some of them to crack and splinter into the most beautiful, dramatic shapes, and the idea struck him that these would make extraordinary one-of-a-kind canvases. Using a blow torch to seal and harden them further enhanced the patterns of the grain.
Jasön also has some of his paintings for sale in his Etsy shop: 1440CreativeSpirit. The number 1440 is a reference to archery, one of Jasön's greatest passions since his adolescent years spent growing up in the wilderness of Mid Wales, after his parents moved there from the Caribbean.
Below: Jasön Curtis, the 'Creative Spirit', at work in his studio, November 2021.