Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Pretty Monstrous

The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Anna Garrett – Artist in Residence
Pretty Monstrous

The relationship between colour, femininity and nature is at the core to this exploratory project. During my residency at the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, I intend to emulate the feeling of being swamped, absorbed and consumed by the monumental plants through painting and observational drawing. I am going to pull on the conflicting ideas between the artificial neon and luminescent ‘feminine’ colour palette with the imposing and authoritative nature of the plants.

Spending a series of days within the heart of the garden, surrounded by the overwhelming plants of gunnera, petasites and hogweed: it is the emotion and feeling of being dwarfed by nature that will most inform my body of work. These plants have a level of toxicity to humans, and my interest pulls on the potential power and domination of nature. Nature is both beautiful yet brutal; yet the power of flora/fauna have been tamed by man in the developed world. I am intrigued by the apocalyptic notion of what will happen when nature takes over.

My recent research has been considering the concept of contemporary femininity, and how historically nature has been attributed to ‘the feminine’ and considered the ‘other’ to civilisation. More specifically I am looking at the abjectivity of the feminine, the monstrous-feminine, and how colour can be attributed to this ‘otherness’. To quote David Batchelor: “In the first sense, colour is made out to be the property of some ‘foreign’ body – usually the feminine, the oriental, the primitive, the infantile, the vulgar, the queer or the pathological. In the second, colour is relegated to the realm of the superficial, the supplementary, the inessential or the cosmetic. […] Colour is dangerous, or it is trivial, or it is both.”  Chromophobia, 2000.

The work will culminate to create a body of large scale paintings, playing with an unsettling duality. The colour palette gives way to monstrous forms and a seductivity into the heart of darkness within the plants’ world. Pretty Monstrous: paintings and observational drawings will be on display during Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden’s ‘Celebration of Art and Nature’, Saturday 5th August 2017.

Anna Garrett – Artist in Residence

Anna Garrett is a painter and mixed media artist, currently completing her Masters in Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her practice evaluates the materiality of a painting’s structure is at its core, and considers the abjectivity and seductivity of paint as a medium. Anna’s recent research includes an exploration into the ‘otherness’ of femininity, the relationship between colour and the feminine, and more recently, how nature, colour and the feminine are connected.

Anna’s work assumes bright luminous hues, a consistent motif in her painterly practice for a number of years. When studying at UCA Farnham, Anna’s final body of work, Welcome to Paradise, 2014, included large scale fluorescent paintings with imagery gleaned from travel brochures, broken by the uncanny symbols of mundane urban objects such as rubbish, bins and pylons. She was fascinated by the double-take of the viewer’s attention in her practice, and this duality of attraction and repulsion has continued as a trope in her work. In solo exhibition glitter. garden. garbage., 2015, Anna created two painting installations, Failures and Moths v. Again these pieces adopted a neon and ‘feminine’ colour palette, and were concerned with the literal breaking down of the painting’s structure. The work remained deceptively flirtatious: vibrating collage depicted overflowing rubbish gleaned from the urban environment. Made in context with neoliberal hyper-consumer society glitter. garden. garbage. considered the ‘other’, in terms of abjection, waste and messy reality often concealed by a seductive façade.  Recent artwork includes a return to painting in an abstracted way: Anna found her work taking a more organic form. Her new interest in the power and seductivity of nature and plants, has been inspired by the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. Working as Gallery Assistant, one of Anna’s tasks has been to explore the diverse range of plants within the garden, and make a ‘Plant Guide’ for visitors. This task evolved into an interest in the seductive monumentality of the plants, and how this effects the spectator. Researching the power of nature through literature and theory, Anna is also concerned with the women/nature, man/culture concept in Western society; and how the allegory of the beautiful monstrosity of the plants can be played out in this new body of work.

Anna is currently studying MFA Fine Art, Goldsmiths, having graduated with a First Class Honours in BA Fine Art, from the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, in 2014. She has exhibited in many group shows across the UK and internationally, including solo exhibitions glitter. garden. garbage., Take Courage Gallery, New Cross, London, 2015, and Fluore$cent, Footfall Art, Bermondsey, London, 2014. Anna was selected for the UKYA National Festival, Derby, 2016 and Zealous Art Prize, 2016. She also curates exhibitions at the Riverside Café Gallery, Farnham Maltings, establishing a variety of community projects and conceptual group shows.

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