ONE-to-ONES WITH….. JANE HAYES GREENWOOD!
Jane Hayes Greenwood is a London based artist and director of the artist led project space and studio provider Block 336.
Her solo exhibition, Lead us Not into Temptation comprising of a major sculptural installation, paintings and prints is currently showing until November 10th.
Firstly can you give us some insight into Block 336 and your involvement with the space?
Block 336 is an artist-led project space and studio provider located in a large underground Brutalist space just outside the centre of Brixton. I am a co-founder and executive director. We have been running just over five and a half years and my show is the 26th exhibition we have presented. I work together with a small team to deliver an ambitious programme of exhibitions and events. We hold approximately 4 shows per year with at least 3 of those being solo projects. Artists are invited to produce entirely new work that they may not have had the opportunity to produce previously due to limitations in terms of time, space or support. These things are foregrounded for each artist we work with. Typically artists will develop their work at Block 336 for 4-12 weeks prior to an exhibition. The emphasis for us is on supporting artists so they can take risks and push their practice.
Is this your first solo exhibition at Block 336?
Yes, we decided as a group of artists when we were first setting up that we would each present one solo exhibition at a certain point in time. It is probably about time I presented my own show!
Can you explain to us a little about your process as an artist and how an exhibition like this comes to life? Does the theme and subject matter find you or is that something that you have already determined going into the project?
My works come together in different ways. The space at Block 336 is pretty big with over 300sq m of exhibition space across two galleries. Although I didn’t have that much time to prepare the plan came together quite naturally. Ideas are also generated through the process of making for me; they never come solely from research so my thoughtsbecame embellished as I went along.
Food had entered my work following a period where I had been thinking about the psychological histories attached to objects. Food is a strange 'thing' because it is usually not around for very long. It is something we all need to survive but many people have complex relationships with it. Ideas around pleasure, temptation and shame were coming up and I had been thinking about the way language used around food is often inflected with moral judgments. “Good, bad, naughty, nice, virtuous sinful etc”. When I was trying to track the origins of this I ended up reading the story of Genesis in the Bible that describes Adam and Eve’s Fall from grace. This story seemed to capture so many of my interests around desire, control, repression, judgment etc that I decided to respond to it. My sculptural installation is a loose and distorted interpretation of this story.
There seems to be a real sense of play and light heartedness in terms of your colour palette and also with some of the references to popular culture in your work. However, the themes you are alluding to are often quite serious and complex. How important is it for you as an artist to involve this kind of juxta-positioning and how conscious are you of this when beginning a new project or piece of work?
I think humour and a lighthearted tone is the way many people respond to serious and complex issues. I guess you could say my work feigns a cheery type of calm whilst alluding to something more anxious and uncertain. I do see the potential for the kind of saccharine colour palette I have been using and a tongue in cheek attitude to be quite disarming. You get this in Guston’s work when he paints the KKK in pastel colours. Through the use of contrast I guess there is an attempt to produce a situation where a viewer is led towards scratching beneath the surface.
Can you explain to us a little about GIRLPOWER Collection and their support of the exhibition?
The GIRLPOWER Collection is a collecting partnership between Marcelle Joseph and Zurich-based Kimberley Morris who collect the work of female artists. Marcelle is an independent curator and collector who has recently served on the jury for the Max Mara Prize for Women. The GIRLPOWER Collection are kindly supporting the exhibition’s public events programme. We will be working with the brilliant Bompas & Parr, a London based company that present events where food, art and entertainment intersect. The event is on 10th November and will explore the history of ‘sin eating’ and will involve all sorts of weird and wonderful apple related activities!
How important is it to you to represent female artists at the gallery?
There are so many brilliant artists around that there is no excuse for any arts organisation not to present a balance of work by men and women. Unfortunately this is not the case in many instances as the Guerilla Girls continue to remind us. It seems that there are some changes happening though. Frances Morris who has been director of Tate Modern since 2015, has been vocal about championing female artists since she was appointed and it is great to see Maria Balshaw be appointed as the first female director of Tate Galleries. Commercial galleries like Lisson are also addressing the gender disparity that has existed over the past decade (around 83% of Lisson Gallery’s solo shows up until 2017 were by men.) There is a long way to go with the art market though. There is a huge gap in auction records for works sold by deceased artists. A painting by Georgia O’Keefe’s sold in 2014 for a quarter of what a record-breaking Picasso went for in the following year.
What is the best advice you have received as an artist and/or young entrepreneur?
I can’t think of anything off hand but I came across Patti Smith’s advice to the young recently. She talks about trying to keep things in perspective; pursing what you believe in; recognising the beautiful things in life and accepting suffering as part of the package!
What are the next steps for you as an artist and for Block 336?
The thing with having a big solo exhibition and working as intensively as I did for 5 months is you generate so many ideas. Even though people commented that I made a lot of work for Lead Me Not Into Temptation there was more that I had in my head! So I’m excited to continue.
With Block 336 we have some great projects coming up. In November we will present the first UK solo exhibition of film work by Irish artist Kevin Gaffney. Unseen By My Open Eyes will be curated by Kathleen Soriano, the current chair of the Liverpool Biennial and former director of exhibitions at the RA. In January 2018 we will present Bloomberg New Contemporaries which will travel to us from the BALTIC and BALTIC 39. There are 47 artists that have been selected by panellists George Shaw, Caroline Achaintre and Elizabeth Price. It's great to host Bloomberg New Contemporaries as they consistently select work by really exciting artists so very much looking forward to that.