"Every painting starts off with excitement and fear. I am compelled to paint - it is my connection to the world. I feel a constant struggle to say something, but everything must appear easy and joyful."

From 20 March until 20 April 2015, The Minster Gallery in Winchester will be showing a selection of new paintings by long standing Gallery Artist, Mary-Jane Alexander.

Mary-Jane Alexander was born in Zimbabwe and graduated from the University of Cape Town (BA Fine Arts) where she was taught by Maurice Van Esche who had been a pupil of Matisse. Before arriving in England in 1977, she exhibited widely in Zimbabwe, lectured in anatomy and life drawing at the Bulawayo Art College and presented programmes on Rhodesian TV.

From 1979, her work became closely associated with the theatre, reflecting her deep interest in both actors and dancers. She has been fortunate enough to have worked with many dance companies, including the English National Ballet, the Spanish Dance Society and Petra Siniawski’s Jazz Dance Company. Her last theatrical venture was a series of paintings based on Fosse which was at the Prince of Wales Theatre in the West End. She is passionate about dance in all forms and her fast method of working has been developed over the years to capture the movement of the dancers as swiftly as possible.

This interest in figures has led to a new series of Italian folk dancers....along with her expressive and wild landscapes depicting the evocative mountains of her beloved Napoli, where she finds her inspiration and focus, in her studio in Caserta, Campania.

Italian landscapes in the changing seasons now form the main body of her work, as she has found the rythms of the land and sky as fascinating as the movements of the human body. This collection of work is inspired by the “changing seasons”, and the extreme weather conditions in Italy. Searing hot summers, luscious springs, fruitful autumns and wild winters. Painted en plein air, her work is rich in both colour and texture, leaving the viewer captured and entranced by all Italy has to offer. Her discovery of the abstract form inherent to landscapes has allowed Mary-Jane to explore and propel her work to being wonderfully expressive and free.