It’s four years now since Jenny died. I am starting to realise that being an Art Executor isn’t about having a set of tasks to perform, it is a long haul, a lifetime’s calling. Every time I look again at Jenny’s art work I make a new discovery.
We are now planning an exhibition presenting paper sculptures and mobiles, the exhibition she had been preparing when she died. So I’ve been looking more closely at the paper reliefs, in particular at the more elaborate ones which, when she did give them titles, Jenny called ‘spirals’ or ‘flowers’ seemingly indiscriminately, and asking how these exuberant confections fit into a Still Life Art which is normally spare and disciplined. I think I’ve found the the answer.
I’ve already written about the stress of clearing Jenny’s studio and deciding what to regard as part of the Art Executor’s work. One of the decisions was what to do about her books, of which there were very many. Most I gave away, but a few escaped because I couldn’t think what they were doing on her shelf and so took them to read and to think about. Three were about Mathematics – one on Alegbra and two on number theory. All her life Jenny had been interested in the latest developments in science, ever since she and I had listened to the Reith Lectures, on the Origins of the Universe, in 1958, when she was aged 16. Her art of Still LIfe developed as an exploration of natural forms and a demonstration of harmony and geometry throughout the natural world and in art. I hadn’t been surpised that she had many folders of cuttings on scientific theories or discoveries. The Maths books were a surprise, because, to speak honestly, Jenny was not that fond of numbers or computation.
Embarking on a second cull of things taken from her studio, I opened one of these books after I had been looking again at the circles, spirals, and flowers paper reliefs. There was the link: her circle series, showing complex forms developing from simple cuts, was a linear progression, cutting from 1 to 10. But the spirals and flowers are demonstrations of a Fibonacci sequence – each spiral the sum of the previous two. I have to confess that it’s unlikely I would have seen this if I had sent the maths books to a charity shop with all the others, so I was pleased that some instinct had made me keep those. But I do have to wonder what other clues to her Art there might have been in the ones I gave away.