We’re all defined by the pop-culture characters that we discovered as children. Bewitched by Sailor Moon, the Power Rangers, Disney’s cast of singing characters and the Potterverse.
In Jenny Watson: The Fabric of Fantasy, Jenny has animated her autobiographical works with an array of female characters – from Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella to Charlie’s Angels and Ophelia. For Jenny, self-portraiture is more than just a picture of oneself. Instead, a selection of objects, animals and fictional characters stand in for the artist. Jenny has spent her career creating an autobiography of her life, with each work zooming in and out of different moments in time, peering briefly into her many worlds.
‘I think as a woman you draw on your background as a girl growing up, as well as these sort of fairy tale-type characters, or characters in stories and in fiction that affect you, they’re part of your psyche.’ – Jenny Watson
We’ll take you through some of Jenny’s many alter egos that are currently housed in our Level 3 Galleries.
I think as a woman you draw on your background as a girl growing up, as well as these sort of fairy tale-type characters, or characters in stories and in fiction that affect you, they’re part of your psyche.
– Jenny Watson
This figure is the predominant, and most easily recognisable self-portrait character, shown on numerous adventures throughout Jenny’s works.
We see this figure in Self Portrait in a New York Taxi, sitting in the back seat of the car with a doll-like version of herself on the seat beside her. You can see her in full reflected in the rear view mirror, emphasising the figure’s small, almost shrunken, size. This work references Alice in Wonderland, who finds herself constantly increasing and decreasing in size throughout the story.
In Touch my Skeleton the red-haired figure appears again, this time with half her body revealed as the bones beneath as if standing behind an invisible x-ray. This is an insight into another world of Jenny’s, depicting the inevitability and what is to come.
In Eye of the Storm we see the Alice that everyone knows from their childhood: the young girl wearing the classic blue A-line dress with a white apron. This Alice, however, has the Jenny figure donning the ensemble, with her infamous long red hair whipping around in the tornado. The tornado is reminiscent of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (who also happens to rock a blue A-line dress). Jenny ties these iconic characters of lost girls in wondrous and unsettling worlds into her own narrative arc – whimsically blending fiction with reality.
The Ophelia in Jenny’s works point to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Sir John Everett Millais’ romantic depiction of Ophelia’s death. In Australian Artist of The 80’s as a Lady and Ophelia, the Jenny figure again inhabits the place of this fictional character, with her vibrant red hair flowing outward.
A walk through Jenny Watson’s The Fabric of Fantasy is like an insight into her private diary, peeping into snippets of the artist’s life. Outside of the gallery will be our own ‘Jenny Watson diary’, where you’re invited to anonymously write, scrawl or even sketch your private thoughts.
– The Fabric of Fantasy
Until 2 October