SO­CIAL GRAVY PAGE 6

Sym­bolic fig­ures have mes­sage

Whanganui Midweek - - FRONT PAGE - By PAUL BROOKS

Jen­nifer Kenny’s art is be­ing ex­hib­ited from this week in the front gallery at Whanganui Arts at the Cen­tre in Taupo Quay.

Us­ing tra­di­tional Ma¯ ori forms in con­tem­po­rary set­tings, her work is dis­tinc­tive, in­tu­itive, bold and de­light­ful. The ex­hi­bi­tion is called So­cial Gravy and a large, framed poster ex­plains the sig­nif­i­cance of the ti­tle in re­la­tion to her work.

Her paint­ings and the forms and sym­bols she uses are fa­mil­iar to all New Zealan­ders, but pre­sented to the viewer in an un­fa­mil­iar way. It’s ab­stract but has a close re­la­tion­ship with re­al­ity.

Jenny picked up paint­ing se­ri­ously af­ter re­turn­ing from Scot­land in 2004.

“I was liv­ing in Up­per Hutt but came back to Whanganui for some ground­ing.”

Jenny was born and raised here. Her mother comes from the Chatham Is­lands. A framed an­tique map of the Chathams adorns a wall in Jenny’s home. She en­joyed art at school. “In pri­mary school I loved mak­ing things. Cre­ativ­ity was my strength. My pic­tures were al­ways bold and colour­ful.”

Jenny showed her work in Artists Open Stu­dios this year, join­ing Greg Betts at Brick­sticks, and she has art­work for sale at Kura Gallery in Auck­land and Welling­ton, but this is her first solo ex­hi­bi­tion.

In her Food, Wine and Com­pany se­ries, Jenny’s char­ac­ters, painted with mere (green­stone club) bod­ies, hei tiki heads and faces and the three­toed feet as de­picted in carv­ings, fea­ture in do­mes­tic set­tings like kitchens and lounges. They are usu­ally ac­com­pa­nied by large amounts of food — ku¯ mara, potato, sausages, veg­eta­bles, meat and fish, with sauces, soup and wine.

“I paint to get peo­ple think­ing, but I like to say you make of it what you will. I want peo­ple to take some­thing away from it. There are mes­sages in there, although peo­ple can find their own.”

Jenny uses acrylic paint but has ven­tured into the use of coloured pen­cils for an in­ter­est­ing ef­fect.

While there is an un­der­ly­ing theme in her work, there is also a great deal of va­ri­ety which is ap­par­ent in the 18 or so paint­ings she is putting into the ex­hi­bi­tion.

So­cial Gravy ex­hibits from De­cem­ber 8-15 in the front gallery at Whanganui Arts at the Cen­tre, 19 Taupo Quay.

Most of the works are for sale.

PIC­TURE / PAUL BROOKS

Jen­nifer Kenny with the type of sym­bolic fig­ure she uses in her art.

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