In her largest UK exhibition to date, Hastings-based artist Jennifer Baird explores her journey from remote Caribbean rainforest to East Sussex coastal town.
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, May 15-28, consists of recent work completed since 2014, and is a rare chance to see such a large body of her work on public display.
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 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 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.”