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On The Way To Jerwood Gallery: Jennifer Baird

On The Way To Jerwood Gallery: Jennifer Baird

The Enchantment Aesthetic

In her largest UK exhibition to date, Hastings-based artist Jennifer Baird continues to explore her journey from remote Caribbean rainforest to East Sussex coastal town. Hannah Collisson writes.

More than thirty years living in Trinidad and Tobago has had a huge influence on the work of painter, Jennifer Baird, particularly as she spent the last 16 years of her time there as a recluse in the remote rainforest, living simply, painting prolifically, and immersing herself in her meditation practices.

For the last five years, Jennifer has made her home in Hastings, East Sussex, and is still very much in the process of integrating the decades of living, painting and exhibiting in Trinidad and Tobago. Her work and outlook is truly international.

Jennifer Baird’s largest UK exhibition to date, The Enchantment Aesthetic, at Hastings Arts Forum, 15-28 May, consists of recent work completed since 2014, and is a rare chance to see such a large body of her work on public display.

Jennifer Baird said: “I’ve painted since I could hold a brush in my hand and have always had a burning curiosity and thirst for knowledge, especially of that which seems mysterious – which has fed into the work I’ve produced. Everything gets woven in – and over the years I’ve developed several styles and many techniques to best be able to create paintings from myriad sources of inspiration both external and internal. Some ideas come fully-formed in dreams or waking visions. Some are meticulously thought out and planned. Some develop slowly and organically and others spontaneously arise with no idea at all. There’s a common thread that runs through them all – from abstracts that portray concepts in cosmology or human development, through paintings that radiate the wild and mystical bliss of life in the rainforest to themes of the sacred land or beautiful views that move me. That thread is the strong yearning and striving I feel for aesthetic depth and value. What I’m interested in is transmitting a vibe that can enchant/ intrigue/ delight/ pierce/ catalyse.”

Over the last 45 years, Jennifer has produced a diverse array of works, ranging from the scenic and narrative to the mystical and visionary, developing varied styles and techniques along the way. The influence of many cultures, mythologies and metaphysical ideas can be seen weaving a continuum through her work.

Figurative works include On The Way To Jerwood Gallery, a view from the West Hill over Hastings Old Town, alongside those more tropical in flavour, while many are abstract such as the multi-layered, Deep Time, a series of paintings which depict vast time spans, as tectonic plates shift and flow over and under each other. Her paintings are technically intricate and complex, the 55 pieces in this exhibition representing many thousands of hours work.

Since her previous UK show in 2014, Jennifer has exhibited in San Francisco (2015) and Hungary (2016) with other international artists involved in the contemporary art movement, ‘Integral Art’. Through her alignment with this movement she questions and rebels against many of the fashions and taboos of the mainstream contemporary art world, particularly the absence of depth phenomenology and the spiritual in art.

Jennifer Baird

Jennifer Baird

Jennifer Baird’s fascinating biography

Jennifer Baird was born in England in 1955. She grew up in an artistic family who encouraged her to paint from an early age. Her father, a skilled lithographer and ceramicist, was her first teacher and he gave her a valuable understanding of colour, methodology and artistic discipline. In her mid teens she met regularly with a group of young artists who were studying under the great artist and teacher, Bob White, and through him and his students, discovered Rothko, Kandinsky, Duchamp, etc and the writings of the art historian, critic and philosopher, Herbert Read.

At 17, when her artist friends all went to study art at Leeds, Hornsey and Slade, Jennifer opted to study Buddhism at the small, secluded ashram of a Tibetan Lama (the first to settle in England after fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet). Here she discovered the rich and deep tradition of Tibetan iconography which was naturally incorporated into her art. And it was here that she began her studies in Buddhist psychology and metaphysics and the profound practices of Vajrayana Buddhism, which she has continued all her life.

In 1979 Jennifer went to live in the West Indies, on the island of Tobago where she became well established as an artist – exhibiting many times both there and in Trinidad. She wove into her art the many cultural influences that had converged in the Caribbean and she gained a deep understanding from the anthropologist Dr JD Elder (who had retired to his native Tobago after teaching at universities all over the world) of the threads of mythologies and ancient stories that had come through two main routes to the West Indies from Africa, Ancient Egypt and Greece. In Trinidad and Tobago Jennifer sold many hundreds of paintings to art lovers and collectors visiting the islands from around the globe.

In 2012 Jennifer returned to live in England, sensing that a new phase of life was beginning where she would need to bring her experiences and her art into the cultures of ‘waking up’ and ‘growing up’ that were rapidly emerging in the world. She travelled all over the UK before discovering that Hastings, with its arty, Bohemian, free-thinking culture was where she felt strongly drawn to reside.

Jennifer Baird’s recent exhibitions include participation in RCA Secret in 2016 and 2017, Integral European Conference in 2016 and the Integral Theory Conference, San Francisco, in 2015.

The Enchantment Aesthetic by Jennifer Baird is at Hastings Arts Forum, 36 Marina, St Leonards, East Sussex, TN380BU, May 15-28.

Facebook @jenniferbairdartist
Instagram @jennifer_baird_artist

Deep Time 4

Deep Time 4: Jennifer Baird

Posted 11:37 Tuesday, Apr 3, 2018 In: Arts News

1 Comment

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  1. Gaia Orion

    I met Jennifer at the Integral European Conference in Hungary in 2016 and she is the most extraordinary woman I have ever met. Each of her paintings are powerful transmissions of her wisdom, intelligence, humour and charm. Do not miss this exhibition and better bring one of her reasonably priced paintings home to energize your space and your life!

    Comment by Gaia Orion — Saturday, Apr 7, 2018 @ 00:28

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