potato in bloom
food, life and the idiosyncratic line
lia anna hennig
curators: helen murphy and francesco petillo
20 october - 17 november 2015
private view friday 19 october 6 - 9pm
The Whitecross Gallery
welcomes you to a feast of understated magnificence: three female
artists using line with a unique personal style, while addressing
universal concerns about humanity and our changing relationship to the
The title ‘Potato in Bloom’ was extracted from a book ‘Contemporary Irish Poetry,’ where it was used as an example of beauty, albeit a peculiar one, the potato being more familiar as a mundane food staple than for the discreet aesthetic intrigue of its blossom.
As a poetic metaphor for transformation, it also serves as a reminder that much of what we seek is situated in front of us, but often only visible to those who shed their preconceptions, fine tune their field of vision.
While each of these artists has developed a distinctive approach to line drawing, whether in pen and ink, paint or print processes, their work has a sophisticated simplicity, drawing the viewer into a world where hidden images and meanings gradually emerge... the devil is in the detail.
Food and mortality is a theme well visited throughout our history of art. The Dutch seventeenth century still life paintings showed voluptuous groupings of fruit, cascading textiles. They were masterpieces of abundance, which on closer inspection revealed decay and insect life; a none too discreet warning that we are all perishable, that without exception our fate is certain.
In the present day our reference to food is just as thought provoking. Food and the rituals associated with it are all consuming, as western society obsesses with health and youthfulness, imperfections mean instant rejection. Yet the cost for such indulgence is a price we are reluctant to pay, and we are now beginning to see just how disconnected we are from our food and its production, indeed from our natural environment. As the world becomes urbanised this distance grows ever greater, so does our fascination with the image of our innate relation and interdependence.
Lia Hennig’s quirky and delicate doodle-esque ink drawings appear to grow before your eyes. Her vibrating food is very much alive and dripping with blood, as it once was before the days of shrink wrapped ready meals. She subverts normal bodily processes with humour and horror, combining pleasure and seduction with disgust and repulsion. Lia also has a video showing as part of this exhibition at the Alba restaurant in Whitecross Street.
Born in Frankfurt Lia Hennig graduated from Central St Martins College in 2006, and has exhibited internationally. Her work was selected for Art Futures 2007, and is currently showing at Espace Uhoda in Belgium.
Wendy Murphy’s contemporary still life etchings also employ humour to articulate this theme. Sharing the vivid and unappetisingly coloured meals that she has lovingly prepared for each day of the week, are a range of insects, determined to eat before they are eaten.
Based in New Zealand Wendy is a fine art tutor at Malborough Girls College. She has exhibited throughout New Zealand, and her work is currently showing at the Oriel Gallery in Picton.
Gemma Anderson explores the metaphors that plants, animals and objects offer on the human condition. She collages subjects according to resemblance of form, function and feeling to create allegorical life sized portraits which are etched directly onto the copper plate from life.
Originally from Belfast Gemma is now based in London, and has recently graduated from the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited widely within the UK and abroad.