Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1951
Windsor (small version) [Windsor (small version) (from the Houses series 1975-77)] 1975-76 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas
In 1975, I executed a series of double paintings of the suburban houses that I had lived in whilst growing up around Melbourne. I wanted to explore beyond the single contemplative painting. At this time I was interested in the question of the original. Each house was painted in a large and a small version. The small version was painted from a photograph. The large version was painted from the small version.
The small version of each house was painted on a canvas 3 x 31/2 feet from an 8 x10-inch black-and-white photograph overlaid with a grid and carefully transposed.
The address of the house was incorporated into the painting. It’s important to say that this text was not painted over the image afterwards. The letters were marked out in lead pencil on the canvas with the grid. I was interested in what happened when the letters were located in the paint. The genesis for this idea came from observations of credits over images at the end of television shows.
On completion, a photograph of the small painting was gridded up in approximately 1-inch squares and a much larger painting was done from that. The brush marks became more abstract. Although the personal meaning for me was essential as a motivation, the concerns behind the painting were located with artists such as Joseph Kosuth, Malcolm Morley, Jasper Johns and some of the American super-realists. The ‘permission’ to use such personal imagery was connected to arts feminism discourse I was engaged with at the time generated from the United States.
It is interesting to look back now, 25 years on, to see that working with text and image continues to be what interests me, even though my work has taken various forms since.
Jenny Watson 2002
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002