KIOSK 1 - An exhibition by Jeni Snell
10am - 5:30pm
Sula Art Gallery, Guernsey, Channel Islands.
'KIOSK 1' by Jeni Snell - new digital painting and sculpture. Throughout August 2023.
Ice-creams represent leisure and recreation. Most of us have memories of an excursion to the seaside or a city park on a hot and sunny day when we’ve enjoyed an ice-cream to mark the occasion as well as try to keep cool. My ‘brutalist ice-creams’ evolved during the Covid 19 lockdown as I contemplated my relationship with leisure time and the new restrictions to our freedom and liberty. During the WW11 German Occupation of the Channel Islands, our beaches were cordoned off and made out-of-bounds for recreation as military coastal defences were built and put into operation. Loss-of-freedom, isolation, and fear of an uncertain future, resurfaced as we navigated unsteadily through the Pandemic, and this time can be considered an occupation-of-sorts. My brutalist ice-creams are a celebration of reclaiming our beaches,coast and recreation & leisure pursuits whilst not forgetting our historic wartime past. Or in a wider context, that not everyone is as fortunate to have their freedom and liberty as we generally do.
As well as it being a visual signifier to Guernsey’s German Occupation heritage, I often work with cast-concrete methodology to create my sculptures to give them additional meaning. I also adopt the make-do-and-mend creative resourcefulness of Channel-Islanders under occupation by combining found discarded objects collected from my daily walks in the city (in London were I now live), with my made objects - also frequently fabricated using found objects such as food packaging and drinks containers as moulds. Re-purposing and re-cycling developed from my life-choices into my arts practice and is an ecological statement against human greed and our throw-away society.
My paintings and digital artworks* feature some significant bunkers from my childhood, and some of my favourite bunkers from further afield, amidst a ‘fantasy seaside-iconography of beach-stripes and ice-creams/ lollies which highlight their strategic placing along the coast but also ‘at the seaside’. These stripes shout beachwear & beach equipment and ice-cream Kiosk hoardings. I’m also playfully referencing my interest in WW11 camouflage; in particular it’s limitations, failure and even absurdity - such as gun-emplacements attempting to be houses. These unlikely pairings emphasise this failure whilst undermining the war machine, and metaphorically oppression and control mechanisms in general. Whilst researching the stripe I was delighted to learn more about its transgressive use on cloth and in clothing. The prison stripe seemed particularly relevant during the lockdown as well.
I love graffiti; it is creative, political and subversive. It is generally executed upon walls of derelict or dull urban spaces as bold colours boasting ‘tags’, activist slogans, or incredible artworks - which I think can enhance a rundown environment. This tends not to happen in Guernsey, but along the Atlantic Wall, bunkers are a magnet for the graffiti artist who use concrete as their canvas and beach as their gallery. There is a poetic irony that young people are expressing themselves freely by ‘defacing architecture of war’ when we consider the strict control over art and culture that Nazi fascism enforced.
*By digital art I mean paintings and drawings made using pixels executed on a drawing-tablet with a drawing and painting tool. These digital works can be viewed on screens or printed. My images are printed on German Hahnemühle Fine Art archival printing paper in a signed-limited-edition.
Jeni Snell (she, her, they) is a Guernsey-born (British) Contemporary Artist making conceptually-based multi-disciplinary artworks, living in London, England, UK. Jeni identifies as Queer and is proudly part of the LGBTQ+ community, making artworks that celebrate diversity and equality by using allegory and symbolism to undermine oppression and social control-mechanisms.
At aged four, Jeni attended La Houguette Primary School which was built upon (one of the four sites of) redundant gun battery Mirus (‘Mighty Mirus’ - the biggest gun battery built in the Channel Islands, and one of the biggest in Europe) which brought the opposing dynamics of ‘childhood innocence’ and ‘architecture of war’ together within the playground and his has been a consistently developed theme within her Arts Practice over the last twenty-five years. It is clear that the physical contact from playing in and amongst these bunkers instigated an emotional connection with them. This was both the catalyst for becoming an Artist, and the model for the coexistence of the formal and conceptual oppositions within her work.
Jeni has a First-class (Hons) Bachelor of Art Degree in Fine Art gained from The School of Art, Design, Media & Culture, University of Sunderland in 1999, and a Masters of Arts Degree in Fine Art with Art Theory from Central Saint Martins in 2007.
- T: 01481 245396
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- Sula Framing and Art Gallery Salem Chapel Route Carre L’Islet St Sampsons Guernsey GY2 4RJ