Home: Jennifer Trouton

10 - 30 November 2011

Jennifer Trouton has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland and internationally. Previous solo exhibitions include Still at The Molesworth Gallery in 2009, as well as shows at the 18th Street Gallery Los Angeles, Spectrum Gallery London, The RHA Ashford Gallery, Dublin and The Fenderesky Gallery Belfast. Her awards include a residency at the 18th Street Art Complex in Santa Monica, USA, the COE Adjudicators’ Prize awarded by Andrea Schlieker from the 4th Plinth Project, Trafalagar Square, and a Golden Fleece Award hosted by the Liliias Mitchell Foundation. In 2007, Trouton was shortlisted for Ireland’s prestigious AIB Artist of Promise Award. Trouton’s work is held in numerous public and private collections including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The University of Ulster, Belfast HSC Trust, ESB Ireland, The Office of Public Works and the David Roberts Collection, London.


Following is an extract from an article by Jane Humphreys about the exhibition in the current issue of The Irish Arts Review:

A new body of work from Jennifer Trouton at the Molesworth Gallery, Dublin this winter, illustrates her continuing representation of loss, writes Jane Humphries

With the accelerated pace of contemporary life, brought about by urbanization, new technologies, cheap travel or what has been termed globalization, space is expanding whereas time is shrinking. Svetlana Boym suggests this has led to a contemporary nostalgia that is not only about the past but 'the vanashing present'. Rather than a longing for place, there is a reflective yearning for a different time, or 'the slower rhythms of our dreams'.

This 'vanishing present' has been a constant theme in Jennifer Trouton's work. From the erosion of domestic skills passed down from mother to daughter in Select Your Pattern Pieces According to the View You Have Chosen (2000), to objects fast becoming obsolete in Looking At The Overlooked (2002), to the transformation of the rural Irish landscape in Re(collection) (2006), she has observed and preserved their haunting mnemonic associations.

Despite numerous accolades, most recently receiving The Keating/McLaughlin Award at the 181st RHA Annual Exhibition, as a female artist whose subject is the domestic there is always the danger of accusations of perpetuating it as an essentialist feminine space. For Trouton her insistence on painting in a representional, academic, trompe-l'oeil style, either incorporated into multi-media pieces or as stand-alone works, could also be viewed as traditionalist. However, these are deliberate considerations to create an 'off-modern' or 'in-between' aesthetic that straddles time and space. As Nikos Papastergiadis puts it, 'For centuries, the use of the trompe-l'oeil has been a powerful example of the way art refers to the signs of everyday life but also displaces the appearance of ordinary things and also point to what Gombrich called 'an ensemble of possible states.'

In her new exhibition 'Post', a prefix that opens a plethora of possibilities - feminist, industrial, colonial - it implies something that is after, or subsequent to, the present. Furthermore it suggests communication, employment and news. The juxtaposition of images and media trigger a series of intersections for enquiries between concepts such as urban/rural, home/abroad, local/global, inside/outside, real/unreal, imaginary/factual, authenticity/illusionism, factory made/handmade, wealth/poverty, painting/ time based media, tradition/innovation, which respond to the temporal and spatial transformations that have occurred in relation to art making, emigration, journeying and home.

Regimented in size and form to resemble postcards, the first series of multiples subverts the idealized vision of rural Ireland that is often used to promote the country as a tourist destination. In reality, this hyper-Irishness is false. The abandoned dwellings merging into the landscape, seemingly unimportant, innocous, crumbling and forgotten are the ghosts of the advertising promise of this vanashing world.

By metaphorically depicting the ruination of traditional life via the architectural disintegration of what once was a home-cum-Post Office, a stark contrast is set up in relation to the fast communication of the internet and vanashing home life. Once the hub of family life, modernity and communication, now the outside world enters the home via new technology without call for face-to-face interchange.

This merging of inside and outside spaces and traces of time is presented compositionally by a series of markings that have been copied or traced onto the boards. Cursive writing, postmarks, family photographs, inventories, cracked porcelain and peeling wallpaper signify spectral remnants. These are further inferred by the gentle opaque palette of translucent pink and blue hues which give the effect of the past haunting the present. Gramsci's idea that identity is linked to the need to make an inventory is a possible reading, as these houses were originally the home of her maternal ancestors. Benjamin also wrote that to live is to leave traces, and in modernity were accentuated in the private space. Trouton presents these crossings between the public and the private space by mixing media, thus commenting on contemporary spatial changes where all boundaries are being redefined.

Punctuated by two large pieces that incorporate fragments from the previous works, their greater expanse of compositional space cajoles the viewer into further scrutinizing the mourning of passing time. Like old sepia photographs, dark and brooding, they are centrally lit to draw the gaze to the centre of the subject.

Moving from multi-media to painting, sumptuos floral fabrics fill the entire compositional frame. The textural folds and shadows are reminiscent of another time when artistry was defined in very different terms than today. In contrast, a series of earthy toned wallpaper imagery repeats disintegrating houses and industral machinery to subvert the initial idea of cosy affluent interiors.

Hung together, a conversation between the many universes is created, such as the imagined hopes of a better life in the New World blurring into the reality of toil that often accompanies the act of emigration (Fig 2).

In Shift (Fig 1) these elements are brought together within one large canvas. On the surface this is a grand artistic demonstration of dazzling drapes. However, as the cover slips, wallpaper is revealed printed with the houses of home to subtly shatter the initial version. Trouton's process is itself a study in time. By presenting exquisite illusionism and 'skill' and computerized visual manipulations the artist plays with the viewer, who, consciously or not, is confronted with conceptual complexities which, like her subjects, might be overlooked. Rather than the pejorative, literal associations the domestic and nostalgia traditionally convey, Trouton's new work is an intelligent, lateral exploration of both, which requires looking from many directions and between many spaces.



Born 1971

Education: 1996 BA, Fine Art, University of Ulster, Belfast

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2009Still, Molesworth Gallery, Dublin
2008Ellipsis, Millennium Court Portadown, N. Ireland
2007Re(collection), QSS Gallery Belfast
2006Re(collection), Spectrum Gallery, London
2004Trace, Grove Gallery, Downpatrick, N. Ireland
2003Looking at the Overlooked, Ashford Gallery Dublin
2002Looking at the Overlooked, The Fenderesky Gallery, Belfast, N.Ireland
Looking at the Overlooked, Triskel Gallery, Cork, Ireland
2000Select Your Pattern Pieces According to the View You Have Chosen; Ards Arts Centre, Newtownards, N.Ireland
2000Remould, L.A International Biennale, 18th Street Arts Complex, Santa Monica, U.S.A
2000Select Your Pattern Pieces According to the View You Have Chosen,
Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda, Ireland
1997The Invention of Solitude, Clotworthy Arts Centre, Antrim, N.Ireland