Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Jenny Edbrooke lets her audience look up her skirt

Jenny Edbrooke,  Smalls

F-ish Art Gallery, Robertson Street, Hastings. One night only on Saturday 7 January 2012 at 6pm… Warning: This brief experience may change the way you view your smalls forever!

If you thought site-specific theatre had gone pretty much everywhere, take a walk down Robertson Street and be invited to crawl under the skirt of performance and installation artist Jenny Edbrooke, writes Joe Fearn.

Jenny’s work, entitled Smalls is an amusing and mischievous exploration into our society’s relationship with the female body. Funny, sad, moving and thought provoking, Smalls is an intimate performance that provides a gently challenging insight into the complex world of undergarments, so rarely discussed but so much part of our daily life.

The Smalls project is a creative adventure into the history, psychology and physiology of underwear, and has entailed the creation of a grand costume; a two-metre-long woven skirt, made entirely out of bras, knickers and pants. Audiences are invited under Jenny’s voluminous skirt to discover its hidden gems and explore the taboos, myths and mysteries of our most private items of clothing in a multi sensory experience that mixes sound installation with live performance.

The project has involved gathering associated stories, memories and opinions from within her local community through a number of workshops, including the ladies from a residential home, teenagers from two local secondary schools and women from local new mothers’ groups.

“I feel that in present society it is more important than ever that we discuss topics that have been ignored and ‘covered up’, topics that affect every one of us on many different levels.” Jenny says.

As usual with Jenny’s work, Smalls delves into personal histories, taboo topics and things that make even her feel uncomfortable – with the aim of making individuals feel less alone – and more encouraged and inspired – by the sharing of our most intimate stories, habits and related treasures.

“Undergarments, the coverings for our most intimate parts, can be used as objects to explore our relationship with our self and, more interestingly, our relationships with other people and a wider society.”

“As a solo artist I feel that the time is right to explore collaborative working in order to broaden creative possibilities. My previous trilogy of works was a very personal exploration of my own experiences and responses, but I can already see how working with both community groups and other designer makers has enabled me to develop my ideas and continues to bring new dimensions to the project”.


With past projects, Jenny has explored female identity and taboo topics through exposure or covering of the body. F-ish Gallery will also be showing Jenny’s body paintings. These are artworks that feature Jenny’s breasts – representing two years of breast feeding and 30 years of being a woman – using substances that may be found in an everyday household; edible, vegetable-based products commonly used by women. However, Jenny has also used 22 carat gold in what she calls her ‘booby paintings’ to express the price society puts on the (in this particular case, fragmented) female form. Jenny believes that art – particularly live art, reaches out to the individual and requires them to ask questions of themselves.

“It may challenge their ideas and concepts, and hopefully inspire, even if only in very small ways. It is about bringing together people of all ages, genders, cultures, religions, social classes, abilities and sexualities – and encouraging sharing and communication.”

In this way, Smalls isn’t small at all; it’s huge, encompassing a range of topics, debates, objects and thoughts. Jenny’s woven undergarments are her way of binding together all these possibilities and thoughts.

Jenny Edbrooke’s next project, entitled Menstrual Healing will go on tour in 2012. This challenging work will be all about examining taboos, investigating and exploring cycles, and attempting an analytical, even spiritual diagnostic of an intimate phase of women’s lives.

More details will be available shortly at





Posted 18:00 Wednesday, Dec 14, 2011 In: Arts News

Also in: Arts News

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