Jeanette Orrell – Drawings
Currently showing at Oriel Mwldan is an exhibition of drawings and simple sculptings; which in themselves could be described as 3D drawings, of household objects by the artist Jeanette Orrell. The simplicity of the pieces, and their naive quality makes this a show which can be glanced at and passed over superficially, but on close inspection it has an identity which is more subtle than perhaps grasped on an initial viewing. By spending time simply looking one begins to see the areas of repetition and elements that suggest a ritual pattern as the artist has looked, and looked and looked at the familiar objects with which she grew up in her grandmother’s kitchen and this has contributed an intensely personal feeling to the show, as though Orrell is contemplating once used, but now discarded old items from the kitchen, with affection and a kind of longing for their functional simplicity and on one level the show seems to be about just that, a reminiscing and a bonding exercise through what feels like an exclusively female genetic family line, though this is not in any way even alluded to.
Domesticity as a basis for an artwork is not altogether rare, but it is still fairly unusual and to turn the tools with which one might whisk an omelette, grate up cheese, beat a cake mixture and ladle soup into a bowl, into artefacts displayed for their beauty and not for their original purpose, creates an interesting show and arouses interesting responses in those who view them.
It has the feeling of a wander through a historic kitchen of the 1950’s or 60s, where the utensils for cooking and baking were made of wire and were insubstantial and yet utilitarian. The beaters and whisks may have changed in the decades since, but the uses are the same in that these are now, and were then, the tools of the kitchen for anyone in charge of feeding a family. The baskets or wire cauldrons which here hang in an elegant line, hang like totems from hooks in kitchen ceilings or rafters, around the world. They could have come from an old style range on a ranch in Mexico, or from a rudimentary support of sticks built by Brown Owl to support it over a fire in a Girl Guide camp in the hills of Snowdonia. People around the world may cook different dishes, but the utilitarian items they use to to do the job have been the same everywhere. Though these on show here are not the more streamlined, nor electricity-driven versions of today, they are still recognisable to anyone who cooks and bakes.
There is a simple elegance to the show with its drawings on white and on pale blue backgrounds, and wooden spoons as pale as memory itself, offering the viewer the lightness and illustrative qualities of something which might be mundane but is equally, more often than not, where a mix of dogged responsibility and human happiness reside; in the creation and provision of food in family life.