The Wonder Of It All: Constructed industrial and temporary botanical landscapes

Liverpool Biennial Fringe Festival 2016

In this exhibition Jacqui Chapman and Josie Jenkins bring together work with contrasting visual subject matter, underpinned by concurrent themes. For both artists the work responds to constructed landscapes touching on profusion and consumerism, using representation and abstraction. There is a fascination with the emotion of wonder and a conscious recognition of how these ideas bring human nature into question. This enquiry manifests both in the making and presentation of the work where the result is as much to do with the construction of an artwork as it is with our man-made world.

For both artists a response to landscape has developed into an examination of wider issues and questions, resulting in a pop-up show where nature meets man and art mimics human behaviour.

Since undertaking residencies in China, Jenkins has made work responding to the industrial landscapes that she experienced there. The work in this exhibition extends to the themes of consumerism and the order and control that are present in our manufactured world.

Chapman’s recent work references how we consume nature and in particular flower shows, where manmade installations display sensational excess that lasts just a few days and reveals how this behaviour contrasts with historical collectors.

“People tend to think of gardens as natural but actually it is about using natural ingredients to create artificial theatre” James Wong, BBC2 Chelsea, 2016.

Instant gratification is delivered in the proliferation of collections and in madcap performing gardens and imported Provençale hillsides. Imagination delights and designers are acknowledged with gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze medal awards. My comment is about the overwhelming excess. Chelsea, known as “The greatest flower show on earth”, attracted over 166,000 visitors this year in just 5 days. It was also broadcast on BBC2 for a week.

Searching for the exotic was once the exclusive pursuit of nobility who staked their fortunes collecting the rare from distant continents. Transported in the emotion of wonder, I was thinking about plants from faraway places, as precious as jewels. In contrast, contemporary choice is available to everybody in pop up flower shows and superstores who stock the exotic for a fiver.

The materiality of paint itself is significant as an extension of the subject of instant or fake nature and includes household paint, spray paint, iridescent and pseudo metallic acrylics combined with traditional oil paints. This selection correlates with the idea that profusion and excess is man-made, fleeting then as instantly, disappears.

The Gallery Liverpool, First Floor, The Courtyard, 41 Stanhope Street, Liverpool L8 5RE.

Friday 30th September – Thursday 6th October

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