Art - Jean Davey Winter

Jean Davey Winter is a voyeur. She stands up high above places where people congregate - foyers, open-air cafes, train stations - and takes digital photos of people milling around below her. “We are being looked at all the time in the modern world, and we have become almost oblivious to this,” she says. “My lens acts like a CCTV camera.”

I speak to Jean on the top floor of the HQ Gallery, which is exhibiting her work (officially from Saturday, but it’s already up) for the next three weeks. We are surrounded by the fruit of her voyeurism - not photos, but paintings. “I go back to my computer screen and look for images I think will work well as a painting,” she continues. “Sometimes I zoom into and crop a particular part of a photograph. When I find an image which I think makes a good composition I print it out and work from that. I sometimes play around with it on Photoshop, and sometimes I change the colours a bit (or a lot) but otherwise the paintings are faithful to what I have seen and photographed.” She works mainly with oils on canvas.

The results are remarkable. Part of their strength lies in their unusual composition - the strange angle, the unconventional photo-style cropping of the subject matter - and part of it in the fact that it’s always enthralling to be able to look at people who are oblivious to your gaze. Their body shapes are natural, completely un-posed. They have become human still-lives. There is never much detail of their faces.

Winter’s tale: a bird’s eye view of a bird’s-eye voyeur