I recently spoke to artist Jenny Mckimm, where we discussed her artwork and what it is like to be a working-class artist in London. She also mentioned a potential project she wanted to undertake drawing on the mythology of her hometown area. Now, with the photography of Tilly Bartholomew, they have produced a collaborative project, ‘Trial by Water’ for Wimbledon College of Art’s ‘Soft Earth’ group exhibition.
The exhibition will take place at Espacio Gallery from 2-7 May, which is open 12-5pm. All artists are 2021 graduates from the Wimbledon College of painting course. ‘Soft Earth’ is described as a ‘meshing of artists tackling a variety of themes within their practice.’ There will be a multitude of mediums shown coupled with the varying perspectives of the different artists. At the same time, however, there is a connection between all of these works – built and established during their time studying at Wimbledon College of Arts.
‘Trial by Water’ in particular explores ‘Peak District mythology through a feminist lens’, Tilly and Jenny identifying their relationship with the landscape as women. Locations include Lud's Church, Doxy Pool and the Roaches. They are some of the most gorgeous nature spots in the UK, but are also entrenched in a mythology that often controls and vilifies women. Think Siren’s, mermaids and witches, and how they have frequently been presented in a negative way in mythology and literature. Alternatively, Tilly and Jenny navigate this space by looking at these women as victims of the patriarchy, rather than villains of history.
Their art focuses on these ideas, showing the history of control alongside the desire to be free, and reconnecting with nature through the juxtaposition of stillness and motion. Their choice of black and white photography is an interesting one, and allows their images to exist in space of timelessness. Photography also gives them an experimental space to explore their significance to their environment.
From the photographs I have been shown, the exhibition already feels chilling. They are almost creating a mythology of their own and re-inventing the stories of the area that are so deeply rooted in misogyny. It is an exciting exhibition that sits alongside other works presented in different styles, which is a great way to see how a cohort of graduates have connected with each other's work, whilst still retaining their individual creativity.
The exhibition will be shown at Espacio Gallery, 159 Bethnal Green Road, E2 7DG.
To see more of Jenny and Tilly’s work follow them on Instagram.