Jennifer Allnutt has her second exhibition, PENUMBRA, opening this weekend at The Stockroom in Ringwood. Her work has deep roots in classical traditions while exploring her more modern ideals. We chatted this week about subconscious thought, her grandfather’s influence and what she wish she knew when she first started out.
Tell us a little about your exhibition.
PENUMBRA is my second solo exhibition here in Melbourne and in these new paintings I focused on the concept of the shadow. A penumbra is one of three distinct parts in a shadow and it refers to the part where light is partially obscured or the very fringe of a shadow. I was interested in how shadows can conceal things and yet conversely, in terms of psychoanalysis, can reveal things about our subconscious. I found this paradox compelling and it is something I wish to explore further in the future.
How did you first get involved in art?
Like most artists it was something I did from a young age. My grandpa was a graphic designer so he was my hero for as long as I can remember when it came to art (He’s still my hero and he isn’t afraid to critique my work!). I felt like art was something quite magic as a child and I still feel that way – plucking something from your brain and making it real.
I decided to pursue it seriously after year 12.
What kind of creative patterns, routines, or rituals do you have?
I need to have coffee/tea and I need music. I prefer to work in 3 hour blocks and then have a small break. Somehow it reminds me of the sleep cycle where there are different phases of sleeping until you get to REM and it repeats. The same goes with working in the studio; there are phases of hard work and reflection and in between you lose yourself.
How does living and working in Melbourne influence your work?
Since moving to Melbourne I have felt so inspired by the creative atmosphere and the people I have met that I’ve reacquainted myself with colour. Previously in my work I preferred a muted palette but ever since I moved here, about a year and a half ago, I’ve definitely noticed a shift in my practice, particularly with colour.
What do you think an artist’s role is in society? Why is creativity important?
I cant imagine a world without art, so much wouldn’t exist without art and artists. The role of an artist in society is so diverse but in general terms I believe they illuminate things. Be it social issues, enhancing a community or impacting someone deeply. Everything art touches is all the more better for it and I believe creativity is what makes us human.
What is your favourite artwork of someone else’s, and why?
That is such a hard question but I suppose the first work that springs to mind is Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais. I’m quite fond of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement and I love this painting for its detail and beauty but also because it has a sinister undertone. After that anything by Caravaggio because of his dramatic use of light and shadow. I have so many favourites but I’d have to say Joshua Smith’s work as well. Some of his most recent miniatures blow me away with the level of detail. He inspires me to reach a similar level of detail, dedication and to work hard for what you love.
What creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I’d love to do a mural. I’ve seen so many talented street artists create these gigantic, colossal works in such a short amount of time. I have so much respect and admiration for them.
What’s your advice for up and coming artists?
Don’t beat yourself up too much when you make something you don’t like. Just keep making. Strive for the magnum opus.
Check out Jennifer’s exhibition, PENUMBRA, at The Stockroom, Shop 2, Civic Place, Ringwood. Opening Saturday 29th April 4-7pm. [More Info]
Words: Julia Howland
Images: Courtesy of the gallery/artist.