Jenny Kitchener: Pollinate
This exhibition is the eleventh from this nationally recognised printmaker and regional artist who has been surrounded and influenced by the rhythms of the Australian bush, which underlies all her work.
Jenny Kitchener knew she wanted to be an artist when she was a child and all her life choices were made with this aim. Jenny was one of the first graduates of the Sydney College of the Arts, being awarded a Diploma of Visual Arts in 1979. After moving to a farm west of Kyogle Jenny returned to study at the University of New England Northern Rivers, Lismore, gaining a Bachelor of Arts with distinction followed by Honours First Class for which she was awarded the University Medal on 1992. In 1996 she achieved a Master of Arts from Southern Cross University.
Pollinate is the eleventh solo exhibition by this highly recognised Australian printmaker and the Grafton Regional Gallery is very pleased to present it. Since 1993 Jenny has presented exhibitions and participated in various programs at the gallery. Over this time the gallery acquired thirteen artworks by artist. This print based collection reflects how printmaking was the artist’s major study and remains her major area of practice, a practice she has extended into and fused with other areas including textiles, artist books and sculpture. Her work reveals the artist’s interest in the post modern, an interest influenced by artists Bea Maddock and Imants Tiller, and continuing through her multiple format and mixed media works in Pollinate.
Throughout her life Jenny Kitchener has been surrounded and influenced by the rhythms of the Australian bush, it underlies all her work. Jenny’s research of the O’Grady collection which began in 2006 was a pivotal moment in her work. The artist made many connections to the work and lives of the sister artists, Gladys O’Grady (1894 – 1985) and (Doris O’Grady (1902 – 1996), who grew up and lived and worked on a farm, and documented, painted and sketched the birds, insects and flora of Australia. Pollinate explores the vital interrelationship of pollination, birds and insects and continues the artist’s connection to the work of Doris and Gladys O’Grady; it is a homage to the two artists.
In Jenny’s previous two solo exhibitions she sought to highlight the decline in pollinating insects such as bees. Pollinate continues this concern and expands to include the essential role of pollinating birds in Australia, especially the parrots and the honeyeaters. The linocut In the service of trees: bird pollinators, shows the parrot and the honeyeater placed in bell jars isolating them from nature, from the plants they pollinate.
‘In the service of trees: bird pollinators’ the separation from nature is only a part of what I am trying to convey in the work. The print is really a pictorial celebration of the two major pollinating bird families in Australia and the plants they pollinate,’
Jenny Kitchener 2018
The separation is exemplified in the two prints Family: Psittacidae (parrots) and Family: Meliphagidae (honey-eaters). The artist has collaged a print from In the service of trees: bird pollinators edition and framed them in Victorian portrait style frames to present as portraits of the two Australian bird families.
‘In Family: Psittacidae and Family: Meliphagidae I take this idea further. I have framed each bird ‘family’ in an elaborate portrait-style frame, in much the same way as we lovingly frame photographs of our own family members. In so doing, I hope to elevate the bird families’ status in our own eyes, engender respect for nature and highlight the valuable work that these wonderful creatures do in their role as pollinators.’
Jenny Kitchener 2018
The use of black cut out silhouettes of various insect pollinators either pinned to a screen printed back ground of plants or to a bare wall recalls the traditional technique of displaying insects, of them being separated from their environment. Pollinate marries the sense of unending history to the current situation, all involving the major pollinating birds in Australia, the parrots and honeyeaters, with our major insect pollinators - bees, dragon flies, beetles, butterflies and moths. Pollinate is master printmaker at work.
Gallery Director, Grafton Regional Gallery
Image credit: Jenny Kitchener Oval framed Honeyeaters