Suffolk artist Jelly Green exhibits rain forest art show at FlipSide
Rising young Suffolk artist Jelly Green has created an immersive art exhibition which captures the natural splendor of the Brazilian rain forest. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to her about her adventures in the Amazon.
It takes a lot of courage to disappear for nearly three months, deep into the Amazon rain forest, armed only with large rolls of art paper and supplies of water colour paint but this is what rising Suffolk artist Jelly Green has done and the results of her adventures are now on display at Snape Maltings Dovecote as part of this weekend’s FlipSide Festival.
Jelly, who has been mentored by Maggi Hambling since the age of 16, has produced an exhibition of highly detailed, intensely atmospheric jungle landscapes which combine colour, light and space to create almost three-dimensional views of her rain forest hideaway.
It’s a world away from Suffolk and that’s why she wanted to go and explore a new environment and just lose herself in her work.
“It’s a really magical place but very remote, so it wouldn’t be for everybody.
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“I went twice once in 2015 and then again in 2016 and lived on my own in a treehouse in the forest for a couple of months each time. I originally thought that the watercolours would be preparatory works for larger oil paintings which I would work up back in my studio in Suffolk but some friends of mine who are involved in FlipSide saw them and thought they should be shown because pictures of a Brazilian rain forest would be a perfect fit for a festival with a green agenda and links to Latin America.
“The rain forest is a wonderfully rich place and it needs to be looked after. It’s not only the lungs of the world but 25% of the world’s medicines are developed from plants which only exist in the rain forest.
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“A report I was reading the other day estimated that less than 1% of the plant life in the rain forest has been properly researched so who knows what other cures are waiting for us to discover?”
Jelly said that all the works were completed in situ sometimes with the help of local wildlife. Some of the works exhibit traces of insect life moving the still wet paint around and one large painting of the forest floor had a snake slither its way across it. “I was caught up in what I was doing, completely bound up in the moment, when I became aware that this giant, two-and-a-half metre snake was making its way across my sheet of paper. I took a step back, it stopped, looked up at me, and then ever so casually continued on its way.”
She said that moments like this made a huge impression on her. “When I got the paintings out to get them framed for the exhibition I felt a huge pang of nostalgia because I hadn’t seen them for a while. They took me straight back to that time I spent there, living alone in this treehouse in this vast forest.”
She said that she stayed on a protected piece of forest and apart from a few estate workers she had no human contact at all. “The first time I went there were about six people working in the forest but the second time I didn’t see anyone at all for almost a week and it did really freak me out. I was really pleased to finally see someone – even at a distance.”
She said that the biggest challenge was not the loneliness or the wildlife but the humidity. At times it was 100% humidity and the watercolours just wouldn’t dry.
“I remember when I came to leave putting the sheets out in the sun trying to get them to dry before I rolled them up to take home.”
One of the most impressive aspects of Jelly’s work is the scale of her watercolour sketches. As a viewer you feel a part of the glade or clearing that she is working in. Her work is presented in an almost cinemascope format with leaves and vines, in varying shades of green and silver, weaving themselves into fantastical shapes. The flowers almost sing with their vibrant colours as insects cluster around them. This is an immersive art experience. You feel enveloped by this untouched landscape which is exploding with life and colour.
Jelly said that hanging the exhibition in Snape’s dovecote building will be a challenge but a chance to hang her work on several levels which will simulate the height and all encompassing world of the rain forest.
“Rain forests are the last mysterious places left on the planet, other than the deep oceans, and we must protect them, there are so few of them left.”
Jelly Green: Florestas, is at the Dovecote Studio, at Snape Maltings, from October 6-15 and is part of the FlipSide Festival. Admission is free.