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PRIVATE VIEW | 13th DECEMBER 2018 | 6.30-9pm

14th December 2018 - 7th February 2019

Monday to Friday 10-5pm | By appointment

& Advertised Weekends

“If you create the stage setting and it is grand, everyone who enters will play their part.” Morris Lapidus

“At the seaside there is always a tension between reality and artifice, the mundane and the fanciful, the everyday and the escape – and this is liminality is part of the seaside’s genius” Jenny Steele

WHY BE EXOTIC IN PRIVATE? is Jenny Steele’s first solo exhibition in London. It relates to the performative nature of seaside holidaying and the stage set like atmosphere which this pleasure architecture creates. The exhibition is the result of her research into South Beach Miami’s 1930’s ‘Seaside Moderne’ architecture which was inspired by the long sweeping streamlined curves and details of ocean liners and the International Modernist style.

The interwar period was one of significant societal change. After the trauma of WW1 and the introduction of annual holidays in the UK and the USA created a huge leisure boom. Seaside Moderne architecture was built to create environments where people were permitted to enjoy themselves for a temporary period, to escape from the everyday. This new modern architecture echoed a new utopic vision of the future demonstrating the optimism of the 1930’s felt across many western countries.

Manufactured from swampland with imported trees and foliage, parrots and flamingos (none of which were indigenous to the area) the tropical paradise of South Beach Miami was seen as the ultimate holiday destination, designed as another-worldly place it became a playground that would provide a backdrop for people to perform being at the seaside. During the 1970’s and 1980’s following years of neglect, many of the art deco buildings were restored by the newly formed Miami Design Preservation League. Like a phoenix from the ashes, a skyline emerged of streamlined pastel buildings which came together as an architectural masterpiece. This successful regeneration of the area showed us the transformative power of colour, design and pattern.

Steele in WHY BE EXOTIC IN PRIVATE? has created a ‘mise-en-scene’ – a total artwork where she has drawn on the architectural ideas of Morris Lapidus who declared architecture as a movie set where the guest took on the role of an actor. She has carefully considered the fabric of the gallery as an integral part of her immersive artwork creating of each panel is painted in a single colour from the same South Beach palette and reveal a restaged collection of research, photography, postcards and historical memorabilia from the buildings which have influenced the designs on the reverse giving us a valuable insight into the social history of South Beach Miami

Jenny Steele’s work demonstrates a refined graphic sensibility and a sensitive use of colour. Her way of working challenges the categorical divisions that exist between art, design and décor as she moves effortlessly between them. By exploring the formal and decorative aspects of architecture through the means of drawing, painting and printmaking she has developed a strong visual language that explores the spaces between art, life and decoration bringing the exotic stage Miami’s modern architecture to London.

ABOUT JENNY STEELE Jenny Steele is a Scottish artist who lives and works in Manchester, U.K. She has an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London. Jenny’s work references 20th century architecture and interiors; particularly coastal mid-war modernist architecture and design. She is interested in the permanence of architecture and how it embodies changing governance and social history. Jenny has exhibited widely both in the UK and internationally. She has work in the University of Dundee, the Lothian Council and Donna Karan Ltd, New York.


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