February 01 - February 16, 2008
Jonathan Smart Gallery is very pleased to present a watercolour project by Brenda Nightingale in February, 2008.
She exhibits two related bodies of painting: a series of small works based on photographs of (her) children at play, and a suite of large, panoramic watercolours of the same children busy against backgrounds of forest and park. 

Paintings. The palette throughout the smaller drawings is light and fresh. But in the bigger works, it takes on a much more bruised character - with yellows, reds, blues and greens becoming dirtied, sullied somehow, in their layering of dry and wet upon thick watercolour paper.
This quality combines with the languid, curiously ambivalent body language of pre-adolescent youth, to give the big framed works a psychological edge, a darkness unexpected within the comparative innocence of child's play described in the delicate intimacies of watercolour.
Paintings. Nightingale makes work out of the environment around her. Like many before - and the heritage of watercolour in Canterbury is a long and rich one (think of Page, Stoddart, Angus, Lusk and Spencer-Bower, to name but a few) - Nightingale's practice is rooted in the direct observation of things and people around her. Focused on collecting and filtering experiences of the local and the familiar, Nightingale paints with an honesty and immediacy that lends her work real integrity and a feel that is at once fresh and contemporary, but also oddly nostalgic.

There is a sense of memory in my witness of these curious tableaux. When does play become serious, and the antics of youth assume the more loaded power play of adulthood? When do we learn to resent the hierarchies of our own behaviour?


Selected works





All works are Italian watercolour on cold-pressed Aristico Fabriano paper from 2007 - 2008.

The four large framed watercolours measure 590 x 1460mm.

The smaller watercolour works are all unframed. These measure 280 x 380mm.

There will be available in the second week of this exhibition, a very fine book that documents much of Nightingale's recent practice. With an essay by Cristina Silaghi, this publication elegantly reproduces in full colour more than 100 new works

This limited edition book has a debossed cover and is available directly from the Gallery at NZ $150 GST inc.