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The old abattoir site. The dilapidated building opposite the harbour that most of us have been past – if not all of us at some point during our time in Jersey.  With the opening of the new bus station and tourism office, and completion of the new development project on the horizon, we thought it was quite fitting to have a look back at the old.

During Architecture Week 2004, Janet Meise, a 4-year part time degree student in Art and Design at Highlands College had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the old abattoir prior to the current building work. With an interest in both old and new architecture, deserted and derelict buildings fascinate Janet the most. This has been the inspiration for her last 3 years? work.

Most of the buildings, which survive today, were built in 1887 following a new law, which meant all slaughtering of cattle needed to be done in a public slaughterhouse. The larger slaughterhouse and adjacent buildings were complete by 1907, which is what we see today.  Plans for development on this site had been flying for over 10 years and more recently, with plans for re-development in the pipeline Janet felt it was important to find out more about the construction of the abattoir including its history.

For 23 years the building had been more or less empty and in a very sorry state of disrepair. Much of the roofing had collapsed leaving the interior at the mercy of nature. With the help of Constable Simon Crowcroft, Janet was given permission to visit the site on several occasions, where she made sketches and took a large number of photographs.

In regards to whether the original use of the slaughterhouse affected Janet, she was ?concerned only with its structure and disintegrations. The abattoir building as I knew it was a silent, neglected and decaying place which in some strange way gave it its own form of beauty besides which there also remained a number of very interesting architectural features?.

From her experience at the abattoir, Janet chose to make a number of abstract paintings combining some of these features with shapes formed by derelict parts of the structure in order to express an atmosphere; as well as representational paintings of certain areas. Most of her work is black and white because for Janet this best expresses the silence and desolation of the site. Janet, who is sponsored by the Jersey Arts Trust, will be exhibiting her work for the first time as a solo artist on this scale from the 17th March for 3 weeks at the Berni Gallery. Look out for her triptych piece, it will be hard to miss!

Exhibition: From the 17th March for 3 weeks
Place: Berni Gallery