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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Getting art out of the woods

Local artist Jenny Blake’s new exhibition, Block by Block, engages with a very present issue confronting us head on in 2019, minimising landfill.

Blake says the idea for the exhibition came about when she spotted a builder’s skip full of “beautiful wood offcuts” outside a home being renovated.

“I looked in and thought ‘oh my goodness, I hope this beautiful timber is not going to landfill’,” she says.

“I asked if I could take some of the wood out of the skip and they said sure, so I filled my little Mazda 2 to the brim, took it home and said ‘what can I do to upcycle this’.”

Blake says upcycling the offcuts tied into her philosophy of utilising found or recycled objects in her art.

“For me, I’m all about material driving the art, especially if it’s found or redeemed from landfill.

“If I can find something at the op shop, green shed or garage sale I collect it, because I might just be able to find something to do with it.

“I love painting and of course I buy canvases and paint, but if there’s an opportunity to use a material and have that drive the art, I’m always up for a challenge,” she says.

Blake says the environmental aspect of her exhibition is a reflection of how the local community is thinking about it right now.

“I think that culturally there’s been a rejuvenation for mending or saving things.

“As a community we’re thinking more about the environment, thinking twice about single use plastics, and seeing what materials we have around the house.”

The exhibition comprises 16 works including five block walls, which have been created as a reimagined brick wall, and involved her cutting the wood into little brick sizes, and painting a landscape or a seascape on each.

“I’ve used the blocks as a canvas … I’m experimenting with different ways to present wood that’s been painted with lovely seascapes and landscapes.

Jenny Blake’s exhibition Block by Block will be on display at Strathnairn Arts from 19 September to 13 October; strathnairn.com.au

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