Jennie Jewitt-Harris at C & C Gallery, Forest Hill until 7 October
This is a remarkable exhibition: Jennie Jewitt-Harris’s intricate collages, built in many cases on a foundation of pencil and charcoal drawings of driftwood, are a delight to the eye. The huge range of material – fragments of press cuttings, maps, tickets, illustrations and many more – draw the observer into the works and compel them to find and build stories of their own. In one moment, one may be transported by a piece of map to a remote (or perhaps familiar) spot, and in the next be made to speculate about the lives of characters who have been frozen in time in a complex, alien, environment. Perhaps they are observers, too.
Jennie is a doctor and many of the images are suggestive of anatomical drawings. In ‘Jeopardy of Life’ the image suggests a human figure striding across a landscape, the sinews of the lower limbs taut as it leans forward under a burden of collage including figures that stare out at the viewer, demanding our attention and forcing us to view it ever more closely. ‘Seat of the Soul’ is an image of her husband’s eye, and draws us deep into the body, emphasising the unique role of the organ of sight in internalising our physical environment. In conversation, I learnt that while many people are willing for their internal organs to be used for transplantation after death, far fewer are willing to donate their corneas, the transparent part of the eye through which light passes into the retina, itself an extension of the brain, a topic that Jennie is researching for a PhD.
The quality of Jennie’s work is attested to by her having two of her artworks hanging at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It certainly deserves to be more widely known. As does the C & C Gallery, situated at the back of a bar only a couple of minutes away from Forest Hill rail station, on the London Overground as well being served by as main line trains from London Bridge and Victoria.
William Marshall © 2018.