Jean Spencer

Jean Spencer (1942-1998) studied at Bath Academy of Art between 1960 and 1963 and began to produce work of a constructivist nature. After leaving college, Spencer became associated with a group of artists whose work was emphatically abstract, rational in its procedures and conceptual basis, and who frequently employed mathematical and systematic means to produce works of art.

Spencer’s earliest works included constructed abstract reliefs which employed mathematics as a means of generating formal relation and structures. Between 1966 and 1969, the mathematical basis of Spencer’s work became more pronounced, so that her work often involved systematic variations around a simple geometric configuration. This led Spencer to work in series, which became a prominent characteristic of subsequent work.

During the 1970s she became a member of the Systems Group, which she co-founded with her husband, the artist Malcolm Hughes (1929-97) in 1969. The recognition of the importance of systematic process was the core ethos of this association of artists, and in this collaborative context Spencer exhibited widely in Britain and abroad.

In later years, Spencer’s work gradually freed itself from its earlier adherance to mathematical principles and, instead, drew increasingly on her research into the properties and relations of colour, acquiring a more intuitive basis as it did so. Even so, her work remained rooted in the central principle of clarity- both visual and conceptual. Her work is totally devoid of narrative and anecdote and is based on very meticulously worked out colour theories and geometrical forms, each following a logical system.