Palette, Pallet, Palate - new Pallet Art Bar inspires Exhibition

December 04, 2021  •  1 Comment

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.

Jasön moved from Cambridgeshire to Ipswich a year ago to join Loïs. It was a relief to be reunited after nearly nine months of separation due to the pandemic.

Jasön and Loïs first met in 2015, a connection that was forged through their unusual mutual passion for precision blades: Loïs uses a surgical scalpel to create intricately detailed papercut designs, while Jasön uses a variety of knives and other tools in his handcrafted leatherwork. Interestingly, both artists now also exploit the flexible blades of palette knives in their acrylic paintings to balance printed precision with the characteristic imperfections of knife painting.

Below: 'Gourmet Palate', palette knife acrylics on artist palette, Loïs Cordelia

Loïs Cordelia - Palette Knife Paintings on Artist Palettes

Loïs first began experimenting with palette knife painting in 2015 and was instantly hooked. With her pre-pandemic emphasis on painting live in public settings, she often demonstrated and taught using palette knives, being keen to introduce fellow artists to their uniquely expressive mark-making potential. She remarks: "Many artists briefly try palette knife, bizarrely expecting the blade to behave like a brush, and when it doesn't, they swiftly become frustrated, give up and go back to brushes. But it's not a brush. It's a tool with its own unique voice. There are lots of things you can do with a palette knife that you can't possibly achieve with a brush, or that would take a hundred times longer.

"I know some people are put off by the unfortunate negative connotations of the word 'knife', but in our language - as artists, creatives, engineers and bushcraft enthusiasts - a knife is only ever creative, never destructive. If only young people today were taught about the creative and life-saving value of knives. I should say that palette knives are not designed as sharp, cutting knives, but rather they have blunt, flexible blades that can be used to print, place, pull, ripple,  move, smudge and smoosh the paint. Smooshing (not to be confused with smooching!) is one of my favourite techniques - an effortless combination of smoothing and mashing that picks up and highlights the slightest texture of the substrate, whether wood, canvas or paper.

"Hearing about the new Pallet art bar set me thinking also of times I have painted directly onto wooden artist palettes. Ordinarily, of course, an artist uses a palette to lay out small amounts of paint for ease of mixing colours prior to painting onto a canvas, but I found the traditional kidney shaped palette to be an interesting and challenging canvas in its own right. Some of my artist palette paintings are set out with my paints arranged around the edges, showing how individual colours have flowed into the resulting artwork."

Below: "Autumn Palette", palette knife acrylics on wooden artist palette, 60 x 40 cm.

Loïs comments: "I have a reputation for being a 'speed-painter'. If anything, using palette knives in place of brushes speeds me up even further! I rarely take more than an hour on an individual painting.

"Palette knives allow you to layer light colours on top of dark or dark on top of light while the underlying paint is still wet. They let you trim, place and print paint with remarkable precision, while at the same time forcing you to loosen up your style. They allow you to plaster the paint on thickly in a richly textured, three dimensional impasto style, or spread it out so thinly that it merely accentuates the grain of the canvas."

Above and below: Work in progress on 'Painted Lady'

Loïs first discovered Fox Yard Studio a few weeks before the first covid lockdown. The proprietor Samanta Bell was hoping to launch the new gallery that Spring, but the pandemic delayed its official opening by many months. Loïs kept in touch with Samanta throughout lockdown. "Samanta and I had an instant affinity, not least because of our shared love of foxes! In the middle of the Old Fox Yard, you can see a beautiful bronze statue of Misty the Fox."

Earlier this year, Loïs created one of twelve murals for the Stowmarket Library Garden project, in collaboration with Fox Yard Studio and Modece Architects.

Loïs and Jasön hope you will enjoy their first joint exhibition at Pallet and perhaps be inspired to look at pallet boards and artist palettes in a new light. The exhibition runs until mid February. Pallet is open Monday to Saturday from 3.00 pm until 11.00 pm and serves a delicious array of drinks.

Pallet is located adjacent to Fox Yard Studio in the heart of Stowmarket.


Fascinating blog on the intersection of art and gastronomy by Lois Cordelia! 'Palette, Pallet, Palate' beautifully explores the visual and culinary realms, offering a delightful journey into the symbiosis of color and taste.
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