A good few weeks ago now, we had 'Meet the Artists' happening at The Beecroft Art Gallery, in my local town of Southend-on-Sea. I often pinch myself with my job as a Visitor Engagement Officer in my local museum service. I feel so blessed to have a job where I can share my deep thoughts on art and history. It's the perfect job for me! So I was most excited to have a chat with Jennie about her work in the current Double Take exhibition.
Upon thinking of the title of the exhibition, I love how it all fits together. The literal double, as in two artists on show. Jennie's and Simon Monk. But both artists have different reasons why you might look, then look again. I identified more with Jennie's work and this blog will mostly be about my connection and reactions to her work. But I still appreciated Simon's work.
Simon's 'double take' is the fact his are all trick of the eye pieces that upon first glance, just look like paintings on wooden boards. But the more you look, the more they reveal an amazing 3D effect. Some of the pieces you need to stand and wait for you eyes to adjust and then they really pop out of the wood canvases! Such as these 'hold tight' pieces. I haven't taken any pics of Simon's work, but seeing a flat photo on a screen really wouldn't do it any justice anyway! You need to check his work out for yourself! If you're local to Southend then I'd recommend a visit to the Beecroft, the exhibition is still on until 28/5/23! Alternatively, you can check out more on his website here.
The double take on Jennie's work comes from the deeper meaning and message she is trying to convey. She told me a lot of women had identified on these messages and I replied that it must be amazing as an artist to have that affirmation in knowing what you're putting out there, is being picked up. My favourite of hers was this one as above, a porcelain doll, wearing a mask, holding a chameleon, with the caption 'just trying to fit in'.
This links in so much with discovering my self diagnosis of Autism and ADHD. The literal symbolism of masking away neurodivergent traits so as not to appear weird! I've even had someone tell me I'm somewhat of a social chameleon, being able to 'fit in' with people from all walks of life. Never a truer word was said when you look at it through the lens of a late identified adult with AuDHD! This thing of mimicking, copying behaviour and working out what's acceptable and what's not. Trying to blend in and not stick out like the true weirdo you really are! Of course, these days, after revealing this final layer of myself, I've allowed myself to fully embrace the weird. Take off the mask, and find the balance of being myself but not letting it be an excuse to just bulldoze around being blunt/inappropriate/annoying or however my ND traits may be perceived! It's a tricky one!
This one really spoke to me also. It's called 'try me'. A porcelain doll, with a beheading black mask across her eyes, holding an axe, dressed in red and surrounded by a trellis of red roses. Let's just say, when my sensory overload has become too much, I end up holding on to a lot of anger. My nerves are so frayed, this is what someone on the verge of a melt down looks like to me! Holding an axe, very defiantly, and whispering 'go on, just try me'. The juxtaposition of holding in all that rage, keeping cool and collected, and yet, desperately wanting to use that axe if prompted!
I describe it to my 9 year old as a 'Hulk' moment. That feeling of rage and out of control nature can just flare up out of what feels like, nowhere! In the blink of an eye, the realisation that I've pushed myself too far (in terms of using up all my spoons/energy/resources). I'm given a stark reminder that I'm completely dysregulated and need some down time to calm my frazzled nervous system.
This one, showing a bookcase with a statue head at the top I also loved. It's titled 'way out' and to me, shows the obvious that books and knowledge can be a way out. The heads in grey at the bottom, with bars over them. Leading up to the white statue head at the top, without bars. Books can certainly be a way out for me, a way to escape my busy mind, to focus on another world and be immersed in my imagination. You could also see this as knowledge being a way out to a better life. Qualifications often equal better jobs for example. I just love everything about this piece.
I loved these tile pieces. From left to right the titles are: 'Interior'; 'Look out'; and 'The Visit'. Lots of interpretations on these ones. 'The Visit' is the most obvious as you can see the bottom painting behind bars so it suggests a prison visit. But you could take this deeper with how the paintings of both the woman at the top and the person behind bars are all boxed in. You could say the woman is visiting parts of her that she wants to keep behind closed doors. Internal demons/anxieties/pain perhaps.
'Interior' to me suggests being boxed up as part of the furniture. Or feeling so internal that we hide ourselves away inside. And then the same with 'look out'. Feeling on the inside, looking out at the world outside. All of these link in with that similar theme.
The doll with the mask and chameleon was in a row with each porcelain doll holding a different insect/creature. One with a ladybird entitled 'fly away'. One with an octopus/squid like creature titled 'anguis'. Spiders, scorpions, eggshells. When I spoke to Jennie during our 'meet the artists' chat, she told me that the idea was to show all the anxieties we can end up holding. That we can be expected to just carry these and 'get on with it'. Especially for women in a patriarchal society!
If you're local to Southend, I would highly recommend a visit to the Beecroft Art Gallery whilst this is still on. There are other exhibitions going on alongside this one and Central Museum is just next door! Check out the Southend Museums website for up to date info of what's on! I say again, I love my job and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to chat to Jennie and Simon. I really feel privileged to be a part of Southend's culture. To find out more about Jennie's work, click here.
I'm Julia, Just Creative Julia, jolly pleased to meet you!
Welcome to my creative lifestyle blog, established 2014. My creative journey in discovering my authentic self as a neurodivergent woman.
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