Review: Manning ‘contains’ her inspiration

visual arts
“Bowls, Baskets, Blankets and Boats,”
By Jenny Manning
At Belconnen Arts Centre, Emu Bank, 10am-4pm, Tuesdays-Sundays, until June 8.

Basket with rope handles, Jenny Manning, 2013

Basket with rope handles, Jenny Manning, 2013

In her first article for “CityNews”, Canberra’s most respected craft art reviewer, MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE, looks at drawings, paintings and textiles by Jenny Manning

Meredith Hinchliffe

Meredith Hinchliffe

THE theme of containers runs strongly through this exhibition, which reflects Manning’s interest in ropes and knotting, wrapping, patterns and colours.

Blankets hold comfort and warmth and speak of succour and nurturing. The images of boats remind us of the coracle – a spherical or elliptical form made from lathes or reeds and covered with a waterproof skin – light and easily carried, that has been in use for centuries.

Using a variety of media: graphite on card and paper, pen and ink, sometimes with acrylic, on paper or MDF, mohair and wool, Manning builds up patterns.

The baskets are coiled wool and patterns are built up during the making, animating their surfaces. Cut-out bags and baskets are drawn and painted on MDF, hung on the wall and give a strong illusion of three dimensionality.

Canopy boat, Jenny Manning, 2014

Canopy boat, Jenny Manning, 2014

They evoke the rich, colourful patterns of carpets and textile bands used in countries such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. These baskets give more room for informality than the rigid coiling technique, and containing the illusion of space, they escape the restrictions of the traditional rectangular frame.

Purple coil basket, Jenny Manning, 2014

Purple coil basket, Jenny Manning, 2014

Ropes and textile bands wrap around the drawn boats, referring to familiar patterns the hapless sailors left behind. The fragility of the boats alludes to the fate of asylum seekers who will go to any lengths to find a new life.
The mohair blankets are knitted using traditional patchwork techniques – piecing squares of small knitted fabrics together to create larger blocks of texture and pattern.

Orange basket, Jenny Manning, 2014

Orange basket, Jenny Manning, 2014

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