A few mementoes of Jelly Green’s magnificent but all too brief exhibition, Devour, at the Oxo Tower Gallery on London’s South Bank for just four days in early April. At the opening I was running around excitedly with my camera pointing and shooting wildly, trying in vain to absorb it all. The resulting photos are of varying degrees of clarity, but hopefully you’ll get the gist.
Up high and elevated above the rainforest canopy, the giant trees appear like an emerald green blanket covering the landscape, concealing the bustling world beneath that they home and nurture. The sun rises and sets over the land, kissing the treetops as it goes, leaving only the deep darkness to see but never silence. Day or night it is the noises that make you aware of the life that exists below. Birds singing dazzling melodies to each other mid-flight mid-air, screeching monkeys swinging from the tangled branches, form but a tiny part of the mass ensemble of sounds that chant throughout the day. Come nightfall the tempo shifts to the rumble of the croaking toads, the sudden thud of tree frogs jumping from leaf to leaf; and always the dull constant hum of insects.
Rainforests are some of the most majestic places on the Earth. They are landscapes exploding with life and colour and are often described as ‘the lungs of our planet’. They are one of the Earth’s primary carbon sinks, which are areas that absorb more carbon than they release, and yet we are now clearing thousands of acres of forests worldwide every hour by chainsaws, bulldozers and fire. At the current rate there will be none left by the end of this century. Deforestation not only harms the wildlife, plants and indigenous people who live within it but also creates soil erosion, water pollution, air pollution and increases the risk from global warming enormously.
Over the last four years Jelly Green has spent varying lengths of time living and working in forests around the world. The paintings in this exhibition are a culmination of works created on the jungle floor, the tops of the canopies, and from her imagination.
Midway through the evening Maggi Hambling got up to welcome us all to the exhibition and to sing Jelly’s praises and then to denounce the destruction of the rainforests in no uncertain fucking terms.
It was a great evening and a chance to catch up with lots of old friends.
A couple of days later, returning from the Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern, we called in again for another look. I can’t get enough of these large, immersive paintings. I want them to swallow me up, to escape into their welcoming green embrace. Green by name, green by nature. Thank you Jelly Green!
This time around there were a lot less people but many more red dots!
If you enjoyed this you might also like to see our earlier blogpost – Devour