Jennifer Roberts was born in Keighley, England in 1979. She studied BA Fine Art Painting at University of Brighton 1998-2001 and MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts 2015-2017. She continues her painting and sculpture practice in her Brighton studio.
Through material and form she explores the real and perceived boundaries of the body, the home and its objects, and the physical and psychological spaces we inhabit.
Above: Jennifer Roberts: The Homely Grotesque, Small House Gallery One – photos by Dan Bibby
Inhabitation of homes and bodies implies their boundaries, and also the permeability and mutability of these boundaries, alive with the grotesque and the surreal. Jennifer’s work employs the manipulation and abstraction of the representation of the human body, and explores how this ambiguity can be disturbing. This disorder can be paralleled in terms of the home in the imagined or visualised ‘surreal house’ and its rooms and objects, where the familiar becomes unfamiliar.
“I feel there is an increasing relevance to make sense of our materiality as life becomes increasingly digital. I am exploring how we relate to and feel about matter, and our attachment to it in relation to our devotion to others and otherness, and to our own sense of mortality.”
Housed in the Small House Gallery One, this installation explores the inhabitation of the domestic environment and the inhabitation of our bodies in relation to the pandemic experience.
“Through material and form I explore perceived boundaries of the body, objects and the physical and psychological spaces we inhabit. These frontiers are permeable, mutable and active, alive with the grotesque and the surreal. I am interested in how things that reside at the borders of things operate – skin is a boundary, and the body is a container. The surreal house can then be seen as a container object of grotesque bodies and this is a starting point for my work to evolve from. Bodiliness, flesh, and objects alluding to the body merge with everyday objects from the domestic world. The manipulation and abstraction of the human form, and its distortion, fragmentation and change of state is a challenge to logic and reason. The insides and outsides, the horror of the other – the horror of the unknown. I am interested in how these ideas relate to our sense of being and placement in our surroundings, the materiality of the body and how we experience inhabiting our bodies.
“The process of making the paintings and objects use a similar approach – employing intuitive and considered modes of working alongside observation and invention, further exploring opposing realities and the disturbance of form and feeling that can be found at the interfaces between abstraction and representation, beauty and the grotesque, desire and disgust. The work explores tactility and aversion through materials, and our relationship towards our own materiality arising from feelings of mortality. Recognisable forms and objects are manipulated, their familiar forms are made unfamiliar. This partial representation of the familiar alludes to a fragmented narrative beneath, simultaneously revealing and concealing, communicating and not communicating.
“The social history of devotional objects is currently a main concern of my research, as I am interested in the contemporary significance of devotional objects and our attachment to matter. I feel there is an increasing relevance to make sense of our materiality as life becomes increasingly digital. I am exploring how we relate to and feel about matter, and our attachment to it in relation to our devotion to others and otherness, and to our own sense of mortality.”~ Jennifer Roberts (painter, sculptor, installation artist) 2021
A good soundtrack to the creative process has always been integral to Jennifer’s art making, in particular the music of The Cure which has proved continually inspiring since childhood. Recent works have been particularly soaked in their 1984 album, The Top – listen while you view the show.
(This teaser will play a few bars of each song – to listen to the songs in full, log into your account in the window below, or, go to your Spotify app and search ‘The Homely Grotesque’)
Bonus exhibition documentation below
‘Boudoir in Shapewear’
‘Crust of Soap’
“I love the cloying confinement of these pieces 😍”Ann Blackburn via Instagram @papiermaverick
‘Nests of a Lady’
‘Nests of a Lady’
Languishing shapeless in the painted home, afloat in cosmetic ritual and gluttonous soap surfeit, a sickly sweetness pervading the glamourous hideout of safety net and trinket pamper. Hybrid beasts of a bygone future gather, powder puffs and accoutrements conceal riddled dreams. Stifled songs and scented nests permeate the domicile of desolate delight; squeezed-in shapewear squats temper scratches on walls. With idle distraction, decorating itself, a flinging glee spins relentless lashes and false parts.~ Jennifer Roberts, Reflections on THE HOMELY GROTESQUE, January 2022
JENNIFER ROBERTS online:
(Photos & videos by Dan Bibby, with additional documentation by SHG curator Eldi Dundee)
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