Todd Jenkins

Todd Jenkins's paintings are at once reverent and curious – they look at the peritidal environments of lutruwita with awe. Painting from a visual diary taken on a recent trip around the island, Jenkins re-animates, from emotionally-loaded memories, a landscape and its inhabitants both close and constantly challenging to him.

The texture of the oil paint in Todd Jenkins’s Lunar Current, 2022, is at once delicate and densely packed onto the canvas. There is a sense that the painting is calling out be touched, as well as to be explored by the eye. Though the painting’s title suggests the moon-led movements of the oceans around Tasmania, the rich blues, the tactility of the painted forms, and the shifting waft of the perspective lend the work a mood which is also distinctly sublunary – one of mystery and of fascination with the natural world. 

Todd Jenkins, who lives and works in nipaluna/Hobart, created his most recent body of work for the exhibition Turning Tides during and after his preparatory travels around the island of Tasmania, with a focus on its coastal regions. On this journey, Jenkins started in Eaglehawk Neck, before travelling North to Maria and Flinders Islands, west to Lees Point and then Sundown Point via Marrawah. During the course of this trip, the artist observed the peritidal regions he visited, including biological and topographical features – the tides, the shores they run amongst, and the plant and animal life that they carry.

Keeping a visual diary over this period, Jenkins then returned to the studio and painted from both his documentation and from memory. These images, that is, are soaked through with emotion. They are textured with Jenkins’s subjectivity, and his emotional and intellectual relationships to the regions he recalls so fondly in his work. In a poem appearing alongside the exhibition, Jenkins conjures in this remembered landscape “A friendship forged, / Patterns and textures, / A reflection of the past . . . ” Thus, though the tender washes which characterise many of the paintings – and their dazzling multi-point perspectives – reflect an acute awareness of the changing nature of the ecosystems Jenkins observes, these paintings are perhaps more focussed on continuity than loss – or the threat of loss. Perhaps this is because of the enduring nature of the beauty Jenkins finds in his surrounds, captured in works like Coastline (diptych), 2022, or Limpet (diptych), 2022. The artist has commented on his fascination with the “natural design elements in [the] form and structure” of the world around him, gesturing to a connection with intelligence and spirituality in the landscape which endures on the grand scales of ecological and geological time, threatened though it may be by rapid change today.

The varied scale and gaze of the suite – which moves from observing minute marine flora and fauna to wide-viewed landscapes – speaks also of the wonder and humility with which Jenkins approaches the land, attempting continuously to be with and to know some small part of it better and better. Looking at these works, we find ourselves submersed in the diverse, enchanting landscape of lutruwita – whether under or above the water which carries so much to fascinate and elude us on its tides.

Turning Tides
27 April – 21 May 2022
Despard Gallery, Hobart

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