Anatomy Meets Alchemy in Next Toi Poneke Exhibition

5 January 2009

Get along to Toi Poneke Gallery's next exhibition for a feast of the senses at Allotropy by Jeanette Schäring (starts 15 January).

With a strong interest in biology, metaphysics, and the "interconnectedness of all things", Jeanette has created a series of sculptures, rich in evocative colours, that have been carefully and rigorously metamorphosed from her preferred blank canvas - raw silk. Using an ancient practice of dyeing, she first selects the appropriate plants before steeping them with silk until the desired result occurs through fermentation. What results are flowing, sculptural landscapes that look otherworldly, and very much alive.

Jeanette is interested in the sensory experience. Using allotropy - meaning the ability of a substance to exist in more than one form - as a title for the exhibition, she invites the viewer to see the sculptures as living landscapes and recognise the role of the body and its memory in their construction.

"Working with plants, mould and micro-organisms to achieve colour is a way of painting for me. It can take up to several months to achieve the desired result - the sporadic activity of the organic process influences colour and pattern in a way that echoes the patterns of life," says Jeanette.

Jeanette has lived and worked in Pakistan, Egypt, Kenya, Spain, Germany, and she has also worked on art projects in Thailand and Laos. Yet, she remains very influenced by her Swedish heritage - growing up "with the sensation of the four seasons, the vast forests, dramatic seasonal cycle and the beauty of the Nordic light".

Initially training as an osteopath, Jeanette then felt another calling and went on to study art for ten years - four years of preparatory art school, followed by a Bachelor of Fine Arts and lastly a Masters of Fine Arts at Sweden's Gothenburg University.

"Although I learned a lot of theory and practice through my studies, since then, I have strived to disconnect myself from the intellectual and listen to my subconscious and the body's sensations when creating work," she says.

"We are ourselves living fibres creating works out of other living materials, after all."

Jeanette now lives in Wellington, and has lectured at Massey University. She works between New Zealand and Sweden, having exhibited in both countries. She is coordinating a project to take New Zealand artists to Sweden next year for an exhibition. Her first Wellington exhibition, allotropy, opens at 5.30pm on Thursday 15 January and runs until 5 February at Toi Pōneke Gallery, 61 Abel Smith Street.