Jenny Gillam: Another Green World

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Media Release: April, 2004. 

An exhibition which touches on issues such as genetic engineering, genetic modification, battery farming and animal welfare opens this week in the Michael Hirschfeld Gallery at City Gallery Wellington.

Wellington artist Jenny Gillam’s exhibition Another Green World takes a look at these topical issues with refreshing lightness and sincerity.

Deliberately kitsch, nostalgic and cute, the exhibition includes images of taxidermied lambs, bunnies and Scottie dogs. While these have instant appeal they also alert us to the way in which we perceive and represent nature through photographic images.

Sourced from New Zealand, Australia and Tokyo, and then reinterpreted and digitally altered, the images in Another Green World reflect on the role of nature in our everyday lives. Gillam draws our attention to the ways in which we experience nature on a daily basis through animals, toys, food, hobbies, gardens and parks.

“In Western culture our sense of nature is so domesticated, controlled, or several steps removed from ourselves,” says Gillam.

“When an issue is as politicised as GE is at the moment, it may be that the debate becomes more about politics and the everyday realities are lost.”

Gillam points out, that although “human manipulation of nature and animals is definitely a theme in Another Green World it is not to be read completely negatively. We gain a lot of enjoyment from these interactions and manipulations,” she says.

For example, the breeding of the Scottish terriers that appear in one of the three video works is dependant on human intervention (they must be born by Caesarian section); yet they remain a very popular choice among pet owners, including Gillam’s family.

Many of the images in the exhibition images appear kitsch and somewhat old fashioned, an effect deliberately created by Gillam, who believes that the nostalgia allows the fondness for her subjects to become evident.

Gillam is not trying to create a fantasy or an ideal past; nor is she interested in forcing viewers to critically examine the past for errors and lapses of judgment. Instead, through re-presenting these images in ways that engage and delight, as well as inform, Gillam encourages us to re-examine the ways in which we experience nature in our own lives.

Jenny Gillam was born in Hawkes Bay in 1967. She studied at Carrington Polytechnic where she gained an Advanced Certificate in Professional Photography in 1993 and later at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology where she gained a Master of Fine Arts in 1999. She currently lives and works in Wellington. As well as being a lecturer in the School of Fine Arts at Massey University, she is a co-director of the new artist-run project space SHOW.

ARTIST’S TALK – Another Green Fantasy? Jenny Gillam in conversation with Aaron Kreisler. Thursday 13 May, 6pm. Free entry.

Another Green World is presented within the 360 programme – a full perspective on Wellington art and design, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. Thanks also to Colourcraft and Publication & Design, Wellington City Council and Massey University. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council.