It is with great sadness that I write report the death, on Sunday 06 February, of Jane Phillips, director of the Mission Gallery, in Swansea.
Jane was, from the earliest days when it was still the Swansea Arts Workshop Gallery, a powerhouse and a champion of the small but perfect space that became the Mission Gallery. Over the years she set the gallery exceptionally high standards and consistently delivered them, creating a space that not only provided a much-needed platform for the applied arts, but also offered a nurturing environment for emerging Welsh artists and those who were more established but were looking for opportunities to re-contextualise their practice. The Mission was also responsible for some truly innovative gallery education and outreach projects and created a base from which new arts initiatives could flourish.
The Mission, under Jane’s shrewd curatorial eye, also brought in exciting work from all over the UK, to the delight of its loyal and growing audiences. In my time I have walked through a cloud; crawled through a labyrinth; applied a lipstick kiss and spent far more money than I ever meant to in the shop.
The key to Jane’s success, and therefore the Mission’s, was in her instinctive respect for artists, her determination to help them present their work in the most sympathetic manner and her attention to detail. She formed around herself a team as committed as she was, who continue to make visiting the gallery such a friendly and positive experience.
Just months before her untimely death the Mission finally gained a level of funding from the Arts Council of Wales which will, I hope, enable her successor and colleagues to continue the gallery’s inestimable contribution to the arts scene in Swansea and Wales as a whole.
Feisty, determined, persistent, insistent on quality – these terms could be seen as euphemisms for a difficult character but are, in Jane’s case, synonyms for a passionate personality, whose commitment to supporting artists was unquestionable.
The funeral will be at 10.30 am next Wednesday (16 February), at Morriston Crematorium, Swansea. I hope that everyone who valued Jane as a colleague and a friend will be able to come.
Osi Rhys Osmond’s Hawk and Helicopter exhibition at the Mission runs until March 20