Jennifer Letchet Paintings

My work explores fundamental elements of painting, the relationship between colour and line. I intend my paintings to affect the viewer optically with the illusion of shapes moving and receding. Colour theory is very important to my work. I use specific hues to symbolise ideas or emotions. The contained shapes on canvases seem more like objects than lines. My recent work explores natural and man-made disasters and the impact this has on our environment. I want to record the changing landscape through simplified shapes and colours.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Charting Sea Ice Concentration Levels of Antarctica

I have been working on a new series of drawings charting the changes of Antarctica from 31/12/2010 - 27/03/2011.  I want to look at the impact of climate change on the topography of Antarctica.  These series of drawings have been drawn from an animation from the media.

The series of drawings entitled Sea Ice Concentration Levels 31/12/2010 - 27/03/2011

Postgraduate Diploma Stage Assessments at WCA

This is the assessment space at the Postgraduate studios of Wimbledon School of Art.  This stage of assessment awarded Postgraduate Diplomas in Fine Art and secured our completement of the MA.  These pictures show the hanging in process and the transition from working studio to polished exhibition space.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Current work: Flood drawings, wave paintings, and etchings

Coast of Sendai, by Jennifer Letchet, graphite on paper, 150 x 250 cm, April 2011

Wave of Japan [Orange], by Jennifer Letchet, etching, 24 x 36 cm, April 2011

Wave of Japan [Red], by Jennifer Letchet, etching, 24 x 36 cm, April 2011

Wave of Japan [Gold], by Jennifer Letchet, etching, 24 x 36 cm, April 2011

Absence [Sendai], by Jennifer Letchet, acrylics on paper, 200 x 150 cm, May 2011

Sendai before and after, by Jennifer Letchet, etching, 24 x 36 cm, April 2011

Wave Height, by Jennifer Letchet, gouache on paper, 200 x 150 cm, May 2011

River Hirose 05/09/2010, 12/03/2011

For the assessment space I have hung a diptych entitled, River Hirose 05.09.2010, 12.03.2011, which comprises of two boards measuring 150 x 110 cm each.

I initially had a bit of a disaster with these boards.  When priming them with rabbit skin glue [to ensure they did not rot or warp], they severely warped.  It took about a week to straighten them up with subsequent soakings in glue and with heavy weights to ensure they did not shift back.  I think the problem was an error with the glue, which is something I can learn from.  Unfortunately, as a result of this I have had to use mirror plates to screw them to the wall.

I have primed the boards with my own chalk ground, a type of gesso, which requires seven even coats applied wet on wet.  Once sanded, the surface becomes very hard and shiny, with the appearance of ceramic or marble.  The imperfections in the surface are residue of rabbit skin glue, highlighting the organic nature of the material.  I wanted to create a hard surface, which felt impersonal and cold.  This is emphasised by the grey metallic egg tempera paint.  I chose a grey hue, a non-colour to ensure I did not make other references and because of its coldness.

The concept behind this work is to produce a diagrammatic image of what the media gives us on natural disasters.  It’s a mediation of the media in that we are bombarded with graphic and exploitative imagery intended to shock of terrible events.  These events are beyond our control, they prove how powerful nature is and how small and ineffectual we are as a species.  The diagrammatic images are meant as an environmental image, to show how our world is changing.  Ever so slightly, our borders, our coastlines change and dissolve.  Land sinks and the waters rise, and we are incapable of stopping it. I wanted to provide an emotionless impersonal image giving information.

To the viewer, the painting initially appears as an abstract diptych about drawing, shape and line.  On second glance, with the title in mind, the viewer re-reads the image.  The dates reference the Japanese Tsunami, and the image takes on new meaning.  The viewer realises that they are seeing topography, and essentially the same topography with different dates.  I did not want to give the viewer all the information but to be able to pick out the coastline and work out for themselves that the painted areas are of flooding.  This piece is about the impact of flooding on Sendai’s (North East Japan, where the River Hirose flows through) topography.  The left image is of the area before the Tsunami, which is compared with the right image of Sendai a day after.

River Hirose 05.09.2010, 12.03.2011, by Jennifer Letchet, diptych measuring 150 x 110 cm each, egg tempera on chalk ground. 

A work in progress, showing the build up of layers of egg tempera.

River Hirose 05.09.2010, 12.03.2011 [detail] by Jennifer Letchet.

A work in progress, showing two different layers of egg tempera and the use of masking tape to paint flooding.

Review: Susan Hiller Exhibition at Tate Britain 07/03/2011

Susan Hiller’s exhibition at Tate Britain feels like a chronological retrospective rather than a curated show.  The gallery space has been designed to lead the viewer on a set route around the exhibition.  The viewer is herded from one aspect of Hiller’s career to the next.  I think this sort of spoon fed approach to visitors undermines their intelligence and ability to understand. 

The show open on Hiller’s Rough Seas series, a collection of postcards from Britain’s coast depicting rough waves crashing on beaches, usually with a caption featuring the phrase ‘Rough Sea’.  The collection has taken a number of years to form and includes black-and-white and colour images.  The postcards are mounted in frames below their annotations.  The frames above the postcards hold information as to the location of the rough sea, the date it was sent, the recipient’s name and address, and the message overleaf.  The overall effect is impressive; the postcards together form an also typographical language.  As a viewer, you begin to make connections by linking repeated images, colours and locations. 

The work feels like an impersonal collection: it does not feel a significant subject for Hiller, more of an obsession.   Her obsessive nature runs through the exhibition consistently.  One piece records the appearance of her stomach during pregnancy through daily photographs.  The shifts in shape appear as patterns initially, but with titling, the viewer needs to re-examine the image.  The image takes on new meaning and significance from being a series of related photographs to a document of a journey through pregnancy.  With this piece in mind, this show feels overtly feminine.  It is a show about Hiller, not Hiller’s work, but a record of Hiller through her work. 

In this exhibition, Hiller tackles substantial and quite difficult subject matter: pregnancy, death, and myth.  Monument [1980-1] is a memorial for those who died to save others.  This is a poignant piece paired with a contemplative bench.  This piece feels like a mediation of the media, she has presented the viewer with facts, narratives about bravery and courage, and presented them with sensitivity and in honour of the deceased. 

The highlight of the exhibition for me was Witness, a sound installation of personal accounts from individuals from a wide range of cultural backgrounds.  Hiller is not offering an opinion as to the validity of these accounts, but offers them as facts about society.  Hiller presents to us an archive of information.  An archive of accumulated information, facts, records, documents and collections, which build a portrait of the artist Susan Hiller.