Jan Brown was a most distinguished Canberra artist who was always inspired by living creatures. Jan explored animal and bird forms creating both sculptural and two dimensional works which convey a great affection for her subjects, these very often being magpies, currawongs and ravens. Her artistic process began with sketches, often drawing inspiration from wildlife seen from her kitchen window through to animals in zoos around the world. Jan had an ability to imbue her subject with its own unique personality while stamping it with her strong aesthetic identity. Her work is “incidental to a lifetime journey: seeing, learning, knowing, making.” Jan Brown has two important bronze public art installations in Canberra: the kangaroos situated by the Nerang pool, Commonwealth Park (1981), and the ‘Icarus’ group of sculptures in Petrie Plaza, Civic (2009).
Jan Brown was born in Sydney in 1922. In 1949, she received her National Diploma in Design (Sculpture) from the Chelsea Polytechnic School of Art in London, where she studied under Henry Moore. From 1957 to 2001 she was a lecturer at the Canberra School of Art and, since 1997, a Visiting Fellow at the ANU Institute of the Arts. Jan’s work is exhibited both nationally and internationally, and over the years she has been an inspirational teacher and mentor to countless professional and amateur artists. Jan was also an arts activist and served on numerous major arts advisory councils and arts boards in Canberra. She received the Visual Arts Emeritus Award from the Australian Council and was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1992. Her work is represented in the collections of National Gallery of Australia; Australian National University, Artbank, Parliament House, Canberra Museum & Gallery and the National Library of Australia.