Untitled Etching (24 clouds)

Our plan was to have an exhibition of the kind Jenny had been working towards when she died. The announcement, just before Christmas, that the Gallery where we had hoped to hold it was having to close, was a severe blow at the time.

I now see that had we been contracted to a gallery for an exhibition in July, all the effort of finishing the catalogue, choosing what to show and how, would have been in vain by the end of March. At the beginning of the lockdown I did try to mount a virtual exhibition, as other artists and galleries were doing, but quickly saw that I lacked the technical skills to use the software: not only that, I was in dire need of support in deciding what to show and how. The irony is that, just as I appreciated how much I needed a Gallery, the prospect of finding another one, and persuading them to take Jenny’s work, became vanishingly remote. Even when galleries re-open the appetite for people to go to them is a big unknown. As the reality of our new world slowly dawned on us, we went back to the project plan. The exhibition of Still Life oils, paper reliefs and wire works was to be the end of stage 2 of our project plan. If stage 2 couldn’t be completed, what next?

There was still a lot of basic work outstanding, including cataloguing a portfolio and book of drawings, and her Carnival inspired work.

From 1981-1988 Jenny worked at the Tabernacle project in Notting Hill, and designed and organised the annual children’s Carnival. Her studio contained boxes of photographs, articles, and records of her award winning designs, as well as art works inspired by it, which for want of time we put away unexamined. It was the Carnival experience and skills she learnt there which led her to work with wire and other materials – mesh, feathers, sparkles, sequins, and resulted in an installation in a local shop, of which we have no records. Some pieces remain of a further installation ‘Still Life for a Carnival’. The carnival works show a completely different side of Jenny’s character and art: it is playful but beautiful, and quite unlike anything else she did. What to do with this has been nagging me for some time.

An exhibition of the kind Jenny planned, in the near future seems an impossible ambition. I am going instead to concentrate on finishing a catalogue of the paper reliefs. The drawings and the carnival box will provide distractions when needed.