The world is a lesser place without Jane: Gary Cocker’s reflections


Gary Cocker

The growing ubiquity of technology in 21st century lives is making our world seem smaller, and helps to keep us connected to those in different cities or even countries. However, it never occurred to me until October 2011 that technology could inform us of both the good and the bad in the lives of those we know and care for.

At the time, I was living in Belfast, and it was through the medium of Facebook that I heard of Jane’s tragic and untimely passing. Like any shocking news, it took a while to sink in, and it was only after talking to Jane’s brother Craig later that day that it began to seem real; it was only at her funeral, where Jane’s father Graeme showed such strength and courage in delivering his eulogy, that it all hit home.

I first met Jane through her brother Craig, who was my flatmate, travel companion and colleague during University but has remained my closest and best friend. The more time I spent in Jane’s company, whether over coffee, lunches or on nights out, the more Jane opened up, and it was great to see her enjoying herself with friends and really taking hold of the opportunities that University opens up to us all.

Jane, Gary and Craig on Halloween 2009

Jane, Gary and Craig on Halloween 2009

Although I’m not the next Jack Vettriano, I know that Jane had a talent (and, just as importantly, a passion) for art, and was in her element at Duncan of Jordanstone, where she was able to explore her talents under the tutelage of some of Scotland’s finest lecturers.

Like Craig, I know that Jane valued her holidays across Europe with her father, and used them as inspiration not just for her work but for her future travels. That Jane never got to visit Russia, or to return to Sweden to visit her brother, is just one of the many injustices that she and her family were robbed of so suddenly.

That’s where Journey for Jane comes in. Conceived by Craig and Graeme, the journey will raise funds by travelling from Dundee to Moscow via many European cities with a connection to Jane.

133813_184157038265638_6378931_oThe project has reminded me of the good news that technology can spread. The Journey for Jane website will not only help to keep us all updated with their journey through the cities, but will also encourage those of us scattered across the globe who are connected to the journey to donate to the Art School that gave Jane some of the best years of her all too short life, and to PETAL, an organisation that has helped Jane’s family through an experience that the rest of us cannot even begin to comprehend.

The world is a lesser place without Jane, but by donating to this project, we can play our own small part in paying tribute to Jane through art and travel, and building connections that overcome time and place. Let’s ensure that our smaller world is a better world for having had Jane.

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