Natasha Kerr

 'Jonnie Banks'

'Jonnie Banks' Story

Jonnie Banks was born in 1898 in Cincinnati with one blue eye and one green eye. He had the all American happy childhood surrounded by his four brothers and three sisters. His favourite pastimes were playing with his tin soldiers and accompanying his father to work in the print room of the local newspaper. Being the first to see what the reporters had discovered excited him. Jonnie once declared He was the most charming and promising of all the Banks children so it came as a devastating blow when announced that he had enlisted to fight in WW1.

He crossed the Atlantic for the first time in a troop ship bound for Liverpool. When he left Liverpool for the Western Front his outlook was to change forever. It was usual to put boys from the same town together in a regiment as it instilled a sense of camaraderie. Jonnie knew that he would be required to kill the enemy, but it never occurred to him that he would have to kill Hal, his next  door neighbour, a boy he had known for all of his life. Jonnie watched in horror as Hal fell from the duckboard into the mud, the all engulfing mud that sucked its victims slowly down until they disappeared. Jonnie panicked and before he knew what was happening he fired his gun. A few boys were saved from the mud, not many, but a few, Jonnie had shot his friend before an attempt to save him was made, he never knew if he had done the right thing.

He returned home traumatised. Unable to reconcile his actions he despised himself and the town folk who hailed him a hero. He got a job at the local paper and he threw himself into journalism with the reckless abandon that was now to characterise much of his life.  Jonnie put himself in danger whenever he could.

His reputation grew for getting the gritty story, for exposing the hardened gang leader.
He was smart, his own mortality was inconsequential, he wanted to get got, but he also wanted to get them. In 1922 he was offered a job at the New York Times. There he started to infiltrate the city’s underworld. Prohibition, brought in to curb the hedonism of urban city dwellers, was creating a new type of criminal, common man, court room judge and even Jonnie himself, who had come to rely on a drink. For most this was a time of  fun and excess, for Jonnie it led to further destruction.

Jonnie was becoming a liability.  In 1933 he returned to England on a foreign posting with his paper. This time he crossed the Atlantic on the Mauritania where he met Olga Tufnell a wealthy heiress, renowned for her dinner parties. She invited Jonnie to join her table that evening. He was intrigued to see who the other guests may be. It would be fair to say that he was more than a little surprised to see Hals sister Dot, sitting there. His companions voices became muffled and Jonnie felt as if a layer of cotton wool had enveloped him. Everything that he was trying to hide from was innocently sitting before him. As the night unfolded Jonnie drank  and drank. He began to antagonize the guests and their beourgoise ideals, what did they know about real life, what did they know?. Dot was shocked, what had  happened to the charm, what had happened to the promise, what had happened. Why was he turning on her in particular?
The next morning Jonnies bed was found untouched , he was never seen again.

Kerr’s early work was inspired by Italian Renaissance frescoes. She loved the worn away quality, the soft imagery, and the warmth of the colours and the peeling of layers. In 1994, she set up her first studio in Bloomsbury, London. At around this time her mother gave her a series of family photograph albums which had languished in plastic bags in a under stair cupboard. These photographs provided a visual thread that linked her to her unknown family history. Her grandfather, a Viennese surgeon, came to Britain in 1936 and this was part of the story she was to tell.
At this time, Kerr was making her living designing textiles for the luxury end of the market whilst also experimenting with using the photographs to create fine art pieces. It had not occurred to her that this might become her career.
Slowly Kerr was using the family album to create a large body of work. This work inspired a variety of public and commercial bodies and individual families to commission Kerr to tell their stories within the context of a piece of her work.

Born November 1968

1987–1988 Withens Lane College, Foundation Course
1988–1992 Brighton University, BA Hons Fashion Textiles with Business Studies.

Professional Experience
1994-present Many lectures at Universities including LCP, Chelsea School of Art, Central St, Martins and Birmingham
2003  Residency, The Green School, Birmingham
2003  Residency, Saltley School, Birmingham

Selected Exhibitions
2008  Collect. Victoria & Albert Museum London. Represented by Contemporary Applied Arts.
2007 Bespoke, Flow Gallery, London
2007 Looking Back, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool
2007 Tracing History, Jagged Art, Marylebone, London
2007 Focus, Contemporary Applied Arts, London
2006-2007 Making Words, Bilston Craft Gallery, Wolverhampton
2005 21st Century Textiles, Shire Hall Gallery, Stafford
2005 Something Borrowed, Contemporary Applied Arts.
2004 Art on Grass, Sussex
2003 Art for Christmas, The Fine Art Society.

Selected Public Commissions
2007 Large artwork based on Shakespeare’s tragedies, commissioned by Icart for Caribbean Cruise Lines
2006 5 Large Framed works commissioned by Guys & St Thomas’ Hospital, London
2004-2005 3 Panels commissioned by Elstone Hays Associates for Cunard Cruise Ships
2002-2003 Portraits commissioned by Royal Caribbean Lines & London Contemporary Art

2005  Embroidery Magazine
2005  Financial Times – How to spend it
2005  Coast Magazine
2005  Elle Deco, Germany
2004  You Magazine, Mail on Sunday
2003  Crafts Magazine
2003  London Metro
2003  Birmingham Evening Mail
2003  Birmingham Metro
2003  House & Garden Magazine
2003  Ideal Home Magazine




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