Art Gene, Bath Street, Barrow-in-Furness,
Cumbria, LA14 5TY England, UK
Jennifer Douglas successfully applied to Art Gene’s Research Residency Programme through open submission. Whilst in residence at Art Gene she made full use of the large studio space to create new work in response to the town and landscape around Barrow and its islands. Characteristics discovered through detailed exploration are brought together to create a work which evokes Barrow whilst building on the visual language of her earlier works (see bottom of this page).
“I will develop ideas around ‘no-mans land’ or middle space, that are at present, an unknown yet very exciting element to my practice, in order to create a new body of work. I will explore and investigate the place, location, history and geography of Barrow and its surrounding areas.”
References to no-man’s land and middlespace suggest the ‘land’ between low and high mean water, wastelands and that between opposing armies; but also the ‘space’ between polarities of thought or within the conception and perception of a visual language/image. These ‘hinterlands’ and the hidden assets they contain are central to Art Gene’s ongoing enquiry and form the basis of several current projects within the social, natural and built environment.
These images were taken in my studio at Art Gene and document the progession of a large scale drawing entitled Underland III. I use a very visual vocabulary which, when brought together, forms an imaginative landscape environment in either 2 or 3 dimensions. I spent the first few weeks of my stay in Barrow really looking around, exploring the place and taking photographs of objects and scenarios which I thought were both visually interesting and quite specific to Barrow. These include large-scale machinery, wind turbines, chimneys, lighting and houses as well as less obvious things like painted lines on the road, building materials and barrier tape. Everything I look at feeds into the work I make, which in turn I aim to make stimulating and interesting to look at.
I use a variety of materials to make my works; paint, coloured pencils, coloured vinyl, acrylic sheet, rope, wool, rubber, wood and steel. I explore and experiment intuitively with these materials to create my drawings, sculptures and installations.
Colour plays a very important part in the work, and I use it to translate a shape of form that I have seen. I began this large drawing by painting large turquoise and pink mountains, which physically surround Barrow yet at the same time appear to ‘hug’ and protect it from elsewhere. Through the use of different materials these triangular mountain shapes then start to ‘come to life’ and have a more animated presence within the drawing. It is when these transformations begin to happen that I think the work starts to get exciting, because the mountains, through colour and material start to take on a new character in what I consider to be my visual story.
I make works at all different sizes so that when it is brought together in an exhibition the works start to have a conversation with each other. Underland III, pictured here measures 2.5 metres x 5 metres but I intend to show it with a collection of much smaller sculptures which measure approximately 10cm x 10cm x 10cm.
During my research residency at Art Gene I will develop ideas around ‘no-mans land’ or middle space, that are at present, an unknown yet very exciting element to my practice, in order to create a new body of work. I will explore and investigate the place, location, history and geography of Barrow and its surrounding areas. I will then use this research to develop ideas through drawings which will not only map my response to this research but will act as codes for a series of new sculptures.
Jennifer Douglas was born in Amersham, England in 1975 and studied Fine Art at Newcastle University before moving to Glasgow in 2003 where she completed an MA in Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art. Her works have been shown in galleries and museums internationally, including BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Tramway, Hales Gallery, Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts Beijing and Tensta Konshall in Stockholm. Forthcoming Projects include a solo show at the Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool. Jennifer currently lives and works in Gateshead.
My work compels the viewer to unravel a multiplicity of meaning entangled in the formality of all kinds of objects and procedures. Spanning drawing, sculpture and installation the work reveals structures of thought that are both abstract and literal. The materials are carefully selected for their distinctive qualities or characteristics; painted wooden shapes, brightly coloured ropes and twines, luminous reflective plastics, and dirty pools of pigmented latex engage the viewer in my distinct and individual aesthetic vocabulary.
This immediate sense of playful intuition belies a far more rigorous and demanding investigation of ‘matter’ and its conceptual significance. Key to the work is my ongoing exploration of colour. Firstly, colour inherent in and applied to the found object; then in relation to architectural and sculptural space; and finally in a reinterpretation of the above that in turn informs my drawings and collage.
There is a strong relationship between the making of both drawings and sculptures as they are undertaken in a similar way – the one informs the other both visually and in the way that I make them.
The works towards the bottom of this page are all from a solo exhibition The Wood Between the Worlds, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead, 2007. Taking its title directly from C.S. Lewis’s book, The Magicians Nephew (part of the Chronicles of Narnia) where the wood is a ‘linking room’ between the protagonists real and fantasy worlds, the exhibition invited the viewer to test their boundaries and preconceived notions of objects and space, fiction and reality through a series of sculptures and drawings. The works appear in ‘conversation’ with each other and take on characters within a virtual story in which the viewer is immersed. Borders, lines, divisions and boundaries are all incorporated within these individual works, yet the role of each lends a specific relationship to those in the next work.
My work uses drawings and sculptures but it is the interactions between these two forms which is most interesting and the element within my practice which I want to explore further.
Cumbria, LA14 5TY England, UK
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