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“I’m not interested in creating personalities,” says Jean. “I prefer to concentrate on the shapes people make.” The cafe scenes, taken in Covent Garden, are particularly striking. “For me the chairs are as important as the people. Their positions change as people come and go from the tables, forming a sort of narrative. There is a lot of movement in the paintings, even though they are taken from one static image, from one moment in time.”

Jean also paints landscapes, and a number of these are also in the exhibition. At first you could be forgiven for thinking they were the work of a completely different artist. “My landscapes are devoid of people,” she says. “But they are never from wild areas, they are always from places where man has cultivated nature, so you can see the evidence of people in them.” She has a cottage in the South West of France, and most of the paintings are from there. One thing they have in common with her other body of work is that they are unusually composed. A landscape is generally by its very nature wider than it is high, but many of Jean’s are tall and thin. “There are many small medieval hilltop villages in the area,” she says. “When you are walking through the village, often the view you get is a slice of the landscape stretching into the distance, which has been, if you like, cropped by the walls which prevent you from seeing anything on either side.”


A Harvest of Sunflowers, by Jean Davey Winter