Fine art photographer Kezia Blain is showcasing the beauty of Henley’s surroundings at her pop up exhibition, ‘Spirit of Henley’. The exhibition, at Henley House (above Jacobini Wine Gallery) in Hart St, is running until the end of February, and also features work from local artist Kirsten Jones.
Having grown up in Henley, Kezia refined her craft at Gillotts and Henley College before studying BA Photography at Arts University of Bournemouth. She said, “I’ve always been interested in art from a very early age from going to Denning Montessori when I was little. I was always very hands on in the glue and the paint, and it carried through. I was lucky to have very supportive teachers. Before university, all of my schools were in Henley: I went to Valley Road, and then on to Gillotts, and then on to Henley College. I was really lucky that, along the way, I had teachers at those schools who really nurtured me. Particularly when I went to Henley College, I studied Photography and Fine Art, and also did Psychology, but my Photography teachers nurtured my curiosity in the subject and helped me to see it in a wider way than just taking pictures.”
The exhibition came about after Kezia met Jacobini Wine Gallery’s resident artist, Kirsten Jones, when celebrating her mum’s birthday at the wine bar on 1 January. Kezia recalled, “We were admiring her wonderful art in there and started talking about artwork and creating. When she said there was an opportunity upstairs in this wonderful room to put some work on, and that the end of January was free, I thought what better way to start the year than full steam ahead and putting some work out there.”
She continued, “When I got the opportunity to exhibit here above Jacobini, I realised that over the years, even though I’ve done so many different projects, a lot of them had photographs that had been taken in Henley. I realised that, I grew up here, it’s my home town, and how wonderful to exhibit here and pull out work about Henley, in Henley, and pull the community in.”
Much of the work on display came from Kezia’s time living in Henley during lockdown, depicting the fields and wildlife around her home. She said, “That really carried me through, so I think it’s important to show the beauty of nature and how important it is. People can think that Henley is quite a quiet town perhaps, but actually it’s the nature that always has something going on, and what really makes Henley come alive. It’s the ultimate reset. Whenever I need to some inspiration to get back into creating, I go on a walk in Henley. There’s always something.”
Kezia has already had work exhibited in Henley before at Spoon cafe, in Duke St. However, ‘Spirit of Henley’ is her first full exhibition. She said, “It feels like a big achievement to me, especially because it’s in my home town. The fact that I’ve had Henley College post about it and had old teachers reach out, I’ve been able to have those connections again and thank those people again for all their support from when I was younger. It’s almost got me here, and I wouldn’t be here without them. It feels really exciting to bring people from my hometown and people from further afield together.”
The exhibition will run until 28 February. Viewings are made by appointment only. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.