An Unknown Country – a personal exploration of ageing
The second in a series of art exhibitions by recent Michaelis Masters of Fine Art Graduates: Peter Jenks
As part of an ongoing series of solo shows by recent Masters of Fine Art Graduates, the Michaelis Galleries are delighted to host the exhibition An Unknown Country – a personal exploration of ageing, by Peter Jenks.
Sculptures in exaggerated scale – a walking stick that towers above the viewer, a pill-box as large a furniture, jigsaw puzzles sized to cover a whole floor – the work is paradoxically both absurd, and a deeply serious form of activism which highlights the prevalence of ageism in society.
The artist refers to a personal view of the state and processes of old age and ageing – a condition encapsulated by the title, which is derived a poem by the Nobel Laureate poet, Miloz Czeslaw:
You would like to hear how it is in old age?
Certainly, not much is known about that country Till we land there ourselves, with no right to return.
Jenks explores this ‘unknown country’ from a personal perspective and questions and challenges common stereotypes of old age through his work. Referring to objects and symbols typically associated with getting old, he transforms these using scale, material, and carefully chosen imagery to create artefacts which are at one and the same time both familiar and disturbing. By altering formal structures and hinting at alternate meanings of these items, he aims to challenge the stereotypical views of their usage, raising questions concerning their relevance in daily life and promoting considerations of what it means to become old.
The installation of these elements provides a disconcerting spatial experience, and thus stimulates the viewer to consider and question how the physical effects of the ageing of the body impinge upon the psychosocial development of the aged. With this focus Jenks challenges us with a topic that is all too often ignored in art, and avoided in popular culture.
Peter Jenks began a long and successful career in information technology in 1966. In 2004, wishing to pursue a long-standing interest in painting and drawing, he applied to Michaelis and was accepted into the Michaelis undergraduate course in Fine Art. He graduated with a BA (FA) in 2007, and followed this with a Postgraduate Diploma in printmaking in 2008. After some two years working independently, he was accepted into the Michaelis 2011 Masters degree programme, and has now graduated, with distinction.
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