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Jessie Brennan, 43 Strangers, 2010, video installation (DVD and 86 drawings). Courtesy of the artist.

Jessie Brennan

by George Charman

Jessie Brennan’s work encompasses Drawing within a socially engaged practice.  Her works investigate the construction of narrative through meticulous pencil drawings, performative actions and video installations.  Her projects respond to psychological perceptions of place informed by social history and explore the nature of local mythology formed within a community’s collective memory.

Taking as a starting point the geographical and social context of a place Jessie’s work involves participatory processes within a specific location or situation.  Her drawings are a record of personal exchange constructed to reflect fictional spaces of memory within the context of everyday experience.  They explore ways in which local memories and stories define place and shape attitudes towards social and economic change.  In particular, they explore how attempts to tell the (his)story are socially constructed, multi-layered and mythologized within a specific community.  

Jessie’s drawings employ a visual language that is both referential and constructed.  Her recent work The Cut, a 5 m long pencil drawing, responds to the heritage of the Lea River Navigation Canal and Hackney Wick area currently undergoing change due to the Olympic Park.  A landscape of objects referencing previous industries (timber, dye-making, rubber, chemicals) and the domestic lives of contemporary boaters take on an architectural scale when populated by miniature figures.  These figures, toy-like in scale, are interwoven into the landscape of the everyday and inspired by oral history interviews.  It is the formulation of these histories through their changing scales (rather than the stories themselves, although fascinating) that are particularly striking.  Through memory, anecdote and localized experience a fictionalized space is constructed in which perceptions of the real and imaginary can be questioned and explored.  


Jessie Brennan, Impossible Buildings
pencil on paper, a project commissioned by 
Art on the Underground, 2009. 
Courtesy of the artist.

George Charman is an artist whose practice encompasses drawing, sculpture and collage through which the parameters of the gestalt perspective is explored as a means of questioning ones understanding of metaphysical space.  

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