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26/07/2013 / jenniferrobsonartist

The Girl who had a Tail – courier article 19th July 2013 by Jennifer McLaren

The Girl who had a Tail by Jennifer McLaren
Dundee courier 19th july 2013
The Meffan Institute, Forfar Until August 3

DUNDEE-BASED artist Jennifer Robson has blended personal stories with myth and fairy tale to create her new exhibition at The Meffan Institute in Forfar. The Girl who had a Tail demonstrates an evolution in her work, with media ranging from painting and drawing to large-scale sculpture, poetry and short stories she has composed.
the girl who had a tail - Jennifer Robson

Pictures: Steve Macdougall Jennifer alongside the head section of The Horse, below The Hare King.

It is arguably Jennifer’s most revealing body of work yet as she creates a narrative using her own experiences as inspiration. Dealing with stories from the universal to the personal she has reinterpreted the tale of Little Red Riding Hood by casting herself as the main character, Little Blue Riding Hood.

Jennifer explains: “I realised that story is such an important part of human life. We live by story and we all love a good story – even in its simplest form. Children learn from stories and, as adults, we continue to learn from stories, it just gets a bit more complex!

“I wanted to tell a story, perhaps my story, but also a universal story. And if I was going to tell a story then I needed to start collecting my own language and researching and learning the language of story that has gone before me. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last three years.”


Jennifer, 31, was born in Dundee and continues to live and work in the city. She graduated from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in 2004 with a degree in drawing and painting. After art school, she managed The White Gallery in Dundee until 2009. She now works full time in her studio at Meadow Mill inWest Henderson’s Wynd.

She was invited to exhibit at The Meffan after her work The Blue Hare won the galby lery’s winter exhibition purchase prize. It is now owned by Angus Museum Collections and features in the show.

Jennifer is pleased to be at the Forfar gallery: “It feels wonderful, The Meffan is a fantastic space and has a great exhibition programme, which celebrates local east coast artists and provides a home for new emerging artists.”

After years of working with portraiture, Jennifer has come into her own, developing her style and expanding her practices: “This last year I’ve spent working on my show, completing commissions and teaching oneto-one and small group classes to people who want to build confidence in their art from my studio. I love teaching my classes. It has been great fun to see people really flourish in their art and enjoy it, rather than being scared of the paper.”

Jennifer has also taught at McManus Galleries in Dundee, the University of Dundee, Toutie Studios in Alyth and run workshops for local art societies.

In 2011 she worked as the lead artist on a production by Scottish theatre company Poorboy entitled Blood and Roses. It featured specially-commissioned works by upand-coming Scottish artists, and she created around 20 pieces for the production. It was during this time she realised her creativity flowed when she was responding to a story that inspired her.

Drawn to fairytales as a child, Jennifer continues to be inspired by themes such as allegory, mystery, lessons, heroes, magical creatures and other worlds. Her interest in words developed a few years ago when she began writing poetry. Since then she has attended a number of creative writing classes in Dundee.

She explains: “I’ve always liked fantastical and macabre stories and when I started writing I was really inspired by female writers such Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter.”

Jennifer adds she was also influenced by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s idea that fairy tales provide a metaphor for the unconscious and the inner psyche.

A life-size sculpture of a leaping horse hangs in the centre of the gallery, constructed from aluminium wire. Other sculptures inspired by Victorian mourning jewellery are made from synthetic human hair. The exhibition features drawings and small objects made by Jennifer alongside selected museum objects, including a horse skull on loan from the University of Dundee’s D’Arcy Thompson Museum.

She adds: “This exhibition is really a chance for me to bring all the threads of my work form the last four years together in one show. It is also a platform which has allowed me to push my work to the next level, to challenge myself to not only make large-scale work but to pull together all the various skills I have gained in a coherent body of work that ultimately tells a story.”


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