Jennifer Long
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Interior Dialogue joint exhibition-media release by Nikki Shrimpton

DIALOGUE UNCOVERS WHAT IT IS TO BE AN ARTIST

Two like-minded Brisbane artists with individually distinctive painting styles, who have been friends for 17 years, are holding a joint exhibition, Interior Dialogue (July 6 - 18, Graydon Gallery, New Farm).

Kerry Holland paints “portraits and lyrical abstracts” and describes her work as “idea, metaphor, texture, symbol and colour”. Jennifer Long’s practice is “more detailed and realistic” and her art is “more grounded in the earth regarding colour, detail and sensuousness”.

The two friends, who used to live within walking distance of each other at St Lucia, met through their local church, and discovered they had common interests in art and music.

Together they began a life drawing group in the art room under Christ Church and for more than a decade, Kerry taught art to children after school several times a week and Jennifer assisted.

In 2001 Kerry and Jennifer held their first exhibition together, Tidal Works, which was inspired by the landscape and included some of Jennifer’s nudes.

Since then, they have both developed their art practices and exhibited regularly in group and solo shows. Each works in a studio under their respective homes, is inspired by poetry, often paints to classical music, has three adult children who have grown up together, and both are adamant they have been good for each other.

They decided over lunch last July to exhibit again together.

“We feel it is a good time. We have developed individually and our work is quite contrasted, and we know each other well and can say what we think,” explained Kerry.

“We work well together and share many similarities, but value our differences,” Jennifer said.

“Our original intention was to exhibit works in our own particular style, that maintained the integrity of each individual’s artwork, but that were related in some way - through conversation, colour, references and the size of the works,” said Kerry.

“We set up some quite strong rules about how we’d go about this initially, starting with a list of stimuli for each work – such as colour, objects, music, poetry, painter’s thoughts, etc. And we decided not to show each other our work but to describe it only, to help keep the work distinctive.

“I was very protective in the beginning and concerned our work maintain its individual character,” said Kerry who confesses initially to having a “precious” attitude to her work in that respect.

“But our intention changed after a short time, and the development of the works has taken its own path.”

Over the years, talking has been intrinsic to their friendship – weekly and sometimes daily conversations about work and life – and in starting work on the Interior Dialogue exhibition, their discussions revolved around the word ‘interiors’ and what that meant for each of them. They felt the theme was broad and could refer to physical and psychological; external and internal; realistic and abstract; architectural and emotional.

“This dialogue is only a fragment of the ongoing dialogue that we have been having and continue to have as two friends, uncovering what it is to be artists,” said Kerry.

“The way we talked about the exhibition to others was interesting.

“I said Jennifer’s work was about interior architecture and mine was about the personal or spiritual interior. The ‘dialogue’ would be our conversations and the relationship between the works, as a result of the parameters we’d set.

“As work has progressed, I remembered that of course every artist expresses something of their personal interior in their work whether figurative or abstract, so Jennifer’s work would have that element to it. I also recognised my work has some references to architectural interiors and I see that aspects of the domestic interior are starting points or appear in some works as they progress,” explained Kerry.

Discussions about the exhibition began by phone and email. Then, in March this year, they set up a private blog (http://interiordialogue.wordpress.com), even though neither had blogged before.

“It was instead of carting paintings back and forth,” said Kerry who now lives on Brisbane’s northside.

“And so we can discuss ideas and thoughts as we paint and we can show our work to each other and record images and see what comes from that in the way of new work developing,” said Jennifer.

They post images of their latest work on the blog, under categories that include ‘Crystal and Glass’, ‘Living Space’ or ‘Memories’, and comment on what inspired each painting. This could be Kerry’s mother’s passionfruit plate and her grandmother’s crochet work, an artist (Brice Marden) or an artist’s work (Monastery by Ian Fairweather), and poems (including Marlene Marburg’s White) and photos Kerry took during a recent trip to Kakadu in the Top End.

Under the heading ‘White Paintings’ on March 30, the blog reads:

“White is a slippery colour. As soon as you think you have it you see that it is really the palest of blues, or cream or pink or grey. All colour and no colour. The colour of wordlessness, of radiance, blindness, enlightenment. It is the bleached coral, the bloodless visage, untouched canvas, the linen napkin. It is the antithesis of shadow and yet the definer of shadow. KH”. An image of Kerry’s Interior Light accompanied this comment.

The day before, alongside her oil on linen called Red Interior, Jennifer wrote: “Paintings by Mark Rothko particularly one in red and white were a stimulus for this work. Nan’s bedroom at Merri Merri glowed red in the afternoon light. Wispy curtains of red and white gave layers of colour to the scene. Sharp horizontal lines echoed Rothko’s layers of colour.”

“Talking is a big part of our relationship,” explained Jennifer. “And Kerry often articulates what I’d like to say.”

“I’m an ideas person and Jenny is a detail person,”’ said Kerry. “She will point out the exquisite detail, the scents, the juxtaposition. She is very much in the present and is a great researcher. I’ll look at one thing and absorb it. I like to try and specialise a bit more.”

“Kerry loves to talk about the spiritual side of things,” said Jennifer.

“I think most of the 20th century modernists had religious backgrounds and spirituality affects their work. When you’re painting, you’re tapping into something quite deep – the essence of what life is really about. Glorious colours, or emotions or relationships,” explained Kerry.

“It’s a whole process of discovery - anticipation, disappointment, exuberance – you can have it all in one day,” said Kerry.


INTERIOR DIALOGUE EXHIBITION DETAILS:
Graydon Gallery, 29 Merthyr Road, New Farm / Ph: 3254 2325
6 – 18 July 2010
Opening night: Friday 9 July (6 – 8pm)
Gallery hours during exhibition: Daily (Mon-Sun) 10am - 6pm