A TRAPDOOR IN EVERY ROOM

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
2nd of May – 27th of May, 2007
Imp Gallery, above Greville St Bookstore, 145 Greville St, Prahran

 

An interpretation of the work of Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
Jurate Sasnaitis
2007

We speak directly but hear ambiguously.
We see unambiguously but espy allegories.

The trapdoor can be an escape or a snare. The door may appear flush to the surface but in the gap between opening and closing, there is room for deceit. In the genteel murder mysteries of Agatha Christie, a life of grace and decorum harbours underlying wickedness. The surface bears little resemblance to reality.

This is the story of Gracia & Louise becoming the Agatha-authors of their visual text. The Agatha-verse offers such comfort because it is instantly recognisable, a nostalgic hankering for the past, a Robert Browning kind of world, where it is yet possible to think:

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearl'd;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven—
All's right with the world!

Of course, NOTHING's right with the world! The spring neither rains nor buds, the dawn's smogged in, the hillside’s eroded and the lark’s extinct — or if not the lark then some-lark, the many-larks — the snail's irradiated. Is God dead? NO nothin' is ok at all! Gracia & Louise would beguile us with a collage of delightful phrases, of postcards found and invented, of etchings and drawings. Our eye is caught by the pretty surface, but before our mind has a chance to turn aside, we are struck… the people long gone, the animals extinct, the birds entangled in fine wire, even those strange mechanical creatures, motorcycles, like screeching, raucous gulls with plumage ascribed to them that they have never owned.

The Gracia-Louise-Agatha-verse is the world inverted; a sad, mad, bad snapshot made palatable by the delicacy of line, the subtlety of tone, the charm of juxtaposition. But beware, don't let your eye be deceived. Allow my warning to come from yet another alternative universe, the Buffy-verse:

From beneath you, it devours.
 

List of works

Louise Jennison
2006–2007
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano traditional white 640gsm, and Aquarelle Arches 100% pure cotton hot pressed 300gsm paper
1 A Yamaha YZ450F, 2007
2 A 2003 KTM 450SX waiting to be converted to a fuel-cell engine
3 Black Bear with money to buy back her habitat
4 Cleaner waters
5 A Northern Hairy-nosed wombat takes refuge
6 A Northern Hairy-nosed wombat counts his 70 remaining friends
7 Two polar bears with lights
8 A Crab-eater seal test the waters
9 A Kawasaki KX450F
10 A polar bear seeks refuge
11 The Grey parrot whispers the escape plans to the Java sparrow
12 A 2006, Husqvarna WR 250: Enduro
13 Two polar bears with lights to mark out the safe parts ice
14 A polar bear seeks refuge
15 A Crab-eater Seal test the waters
16 Strings attached
17 A motocross rider attempts to cast a shadow of an Eastern Broad-nosed bat on the earth beneath his bike
18 Strings attached
19 A band of Tasmanian devils join forces to protect the Long Footed potoroos
20 A quoka wearing a ‘Don’t Feed Me’ badge
21 A Tasmanian devil protects the Long Footed potoroos
22 A polar bear with floatation devices
23 An Australian Fur seal tests the waters
24 A Humpback whale
25 A Minke whale
26 Wrens with strings attached
27 A Tasmanian devil protects the Long Footed potoroos
28 Cleaner waters
29 A Kawasaki KLX300R painted in my preferred colours
30 A Northern Right whale
31 A Blue whale
32 Strings attached
33 A motocross rider attempts to cast a shadow of a polar bear on the earth beneath his bike
34 A polar bear with floatation devices
35 A Grey whale checking out his surroundings
36 A 2007 Honda CRF450R
37 A polar bear with floatation devices
38 Humpback whales repairing the ice sheet
39 A Tasmanian devil protects the Long Footed potoroos
40 A Yamaha YZ250F converted to an electric hybrid engine
41 A Kawasaki KLX300R
42 Strings attached
43 Strings attached
44 No longer an aurora of polar bears, only a pair
45 The Orange-Breasted bunting warns the Cuban grassquit
46 A motocross rider attempts to cast a shadow of an Eastern Broad-nosed bat on the earth beneath his bike
47 A motocross rider attempts to cast a shadow of an Eastern Broad-nosed bat on the earth beneath his bike
48 A Gray whale
49 A KTM 125 SX 2007
50 A Eurasian robin looks out for the St.Vincent parrot
51 A Gulf of California porpoise
52 A Gulf of California porpoise with a handy pair of scissors
53 New landscapes require new homes *
54 Humpback whales repairing the ice sheet
55 Cleaner waters
56 The Masked flowerpiercer hears the latest from a Rose-breasted thrush-tanger
57 A Golden-shouldered parrot and Snowy owl talk things over
58 A Tasmanian tiger imagines he still exists
59 A Tasmanian tiger imagines he still exists
60 A Brown bear, wishing he had more
61 Humpback whales repairing the ice sheet
62 An endangered Hector’s dolphin jumps to cleaner waters
63 A 2007 Suzuki RM-Z450 Ricky Carmicheal Replica
64 Cleaner waters
65 An Australian Fur seal test the waters
66 A Grey whale checking out his surroundings
* Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, four-colour lithographic offset print on Aquarelle Arches 100% pure cotton hot pressed 300gsm paper, printed by Redwood Prints, edition of 10

Gracia Haby
2006–2007
Collage on postcard and printed material
1 Tell me all your secrets
2 It was fast turning into a competition
3 The lock was broken but the door still worked
4 For Ethel
5 He travelled for some time without incident
6 Left or right, they all led to the one place
7 It was not the objects that bewitched him, it was the order in which they were arranged
8 Not my usual locale
9 It would take more than that for me to part with my spoils
10 It produced what no other refractory in Beirut could
11 Putting tails to good use
12 A white songster conspicuous against the sky
13 Where I can be myself
14 He’d taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line
15 Are we there yet?
16 It made a pleasant change from the crow normally perched there
17 We knew a great deal about housing *
18 Misfortune could not part them *
19 This ain’t as easy as it seems
20 He spoke through his nose
21 Stumbling in the dark until you switched on the light, my friend *
22 I still don’t trust them
23 She pays me no attention, none whatsoever
24 All under control *
25 They are discussing environmental policies
26 This will do nicely
27 A fork in the road - a kingfisher considers his prospects as a shepherd
28 It was easy, if you didn’t look down
29 They gave me no chance to reply
30 Mount Iwakiyama was hard to say but the American badger knew he’d adjust
31 We just can’t understand why the land here is going so cheap?
32 All I need can be found in Tunis
33 Are you the one for me?
34 All was not as it ought
35 Enough to make a cloak and a hood, and a pair of warm mittens
36 A Wallich’s stag with a yellow feathered Black-naped Oriole to clean his antlers
37 A feast fit for a swamp otter and friend
38 We’ll be quite safe up here if we just keep still
39 A fruitful morning for one
40 Coins in every fountain
41 The things we left behind
42 Back to back they swam
43 Just passing through
44 All the thieves, they all tended to hide their jewels in the one spot
45 Do you think anyone will notice?
46 Several small and talkative lodgers in need of a home
47 No one seemed to mind so I proceeded to help myself
48 You turn left, I turn left
49 From here we can see the Adriatic Sea
50 Hoping no one would find my sanctuary
51 Who knew he was actually a muskrat?
52 Please, take me with you... I don’t come empty handed
53 Happy in my new home
54 All was no longer in fog
55 My dacha is 13 storeys higher than yours *
56 This isn’t going to work, is it?
57 It’s getting dark and still I have no shelter
58 I had lain a present at your feet
59 We needed nothing else
60 How did we end up here?
61 A fine balancing act went unnoticed at the New York Zoological Gardens
62 A chance meeting at the Café et Vins
63 The Bank vole conquered her fear of heights in Roma
64 The Pigeon River Hotel seemed so very far away
65 The moon above, and all was well
66 I can’t see what you are looking for
67 The yellow mud turtle arrived on the Wednesday
68 They were unsure of their new neighbours
69 If you’ll now sow the fields you’ll make me very happy
70 Everything that reminds me of you makes me unbelievably sad
71 Glued to the one spot
72 Room for you and room for me *
73 They make their houses in the rocks
74 An unlikely pairing
75 Please, help me untie my eyelashes
76 I never knew I’d miss you
77 It had to be said, it reminded them of home
78 So happy to have found you
79 Jumping not just puddles but whole rivers too
80 Yours or mine? Neither could decide
81 They formed a circle and I knew not what to do
82 Don’t mind me, just passing through
83 Always the Tiger-cat faces its foe
84 From here I can see all I need
85 Not from around these parts
86 If only the Northern Hopping Mouse thought to look behind him
87 Not nearly as terrifying upon closer inspection
88 No flop-eared mule, but a bear and cub
89 There are too many of you to accommodate
90 I return with important trinkets, one for each of you
91 The longer I stood there, the less I understood
92 Conversations with a numbat
93 A charm in your hand for a coin in the pocket
94 We can’t understand why the land is going so cheap here either
95 The Emperor stands about three feet in height
96 I can’t see what you see
97 We once watched the grassy plains, now we watch nothing
98 A blue faced female Black-naped Monarch whispers the secrets of the world to me but I am unimpressed
99 She was unsure of her new owl companion
100 A new den better than the last
101 Treasure before me
102 It’s too cold in China
103 Mirroring the other
104 All the fishermen in Riga had missed what I had found
105 At the Zoologischer Garten Köln the polar bears are oh so tiny
106 It made for a different vantage point
107 A small discovery, Guanajuato, Mexico
108 A leopard seal was not normally encountered on such walks but then nothing felt normal about today
109 This is not the home of the lace maker
110 Portuguese pinch
111 Stumbling in your absence
112 Milano two step
113 Which way to the daily ferry?
* Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison, Collaborative drawings, watercolour, pencil and collage on Fabriano traditional white 640gsm paper

Louise Jennison
52 thaumatropes
2007
Double sided circular drawings
Watercolour and pencil on Aquarelle Arches 100% pure cotton hot pressed 300gsm paper

Gracia Haby
If all the stars go out, I’ll follow my nose home
2007
Artists' book

Gracia Haby
All the discarded things, mended
2007
Artists' book

Gracia Haby & Louise Jennison
I’ve been here before, I
2007
Watercolour, pencil and collage on Fabriano traditional white 604gsm paper

Louise Jennison
I’ve been here before, II
2007
Watercolour and pencil on Fabriano traditional white 604gsm paper

Gracia Haby
Rouen: Just passing through
2007
Artists' book

Gracia Haby
Find your place
2007
Artists' book

Louise Jennison
Don't get around much anymore
2007
Colour lithographic offset print hand coloured with pencil on Aquarelle Arches 100% pure cotton hot pressed 300gsm paper
15 cards with small envelope
Printed by Redwood Prints
Edition of 10