For many years, wherever Auckland artist Jane Mitchell has travelled, she has photographed old doorways, derelict buildings and precarious structures - worn, neglected and discolored pieces of built form which clearly show the marks of time. These photographic images are translated into her works where they testify to the presence of mankind, standing as monuments against veiled, faded renderings of the natural landscape.
A variety of man-made structures (fences, power-lines, roads, barns, etc) feature in Mitchell’s paintings with recent works being dominated by doorways and doors. Taking this interest even into her choice of substrate, the artist’s works often employ panelled insets, painted with veiled edges and layering, sometimes rising to gouged, heavy surfaces, adding to the three-dimensional nature of the composition. Doors appear as symbols of possibility and intrigue within a deteriorating urban environment, with the frames declaring a mysterious, private intimacy – man-made mechanisms to shut out, keep contained, or to release. They can also be read as a comment on perspectives and reality: as we look in, or look out of our constructs we can see only a portion of what lies beyond the frame.
The precarious position of humanity in the face of nature is most clear in Mitchell’s use of figures. The minutely detailed faces and graceful bearing of her human forms render them feathery wraiths, too insubstantial to wield any power against the forces which sweep across their environment. Mitchell has recently sought to enclose and shield her figures in the interiors that she paints – they stand in hallways, walk toward corners and inhabit worlds behind doors that are hidden from our view – yet just outside the frame that we can see, a wider world is waiting to engulf them.
Qualifications: Diploma of Fine Arts (Honours) in Painting, Otago Polytechnic School of Fine Arts, Dunedin; Diploma in Secondary Teaching, Christchurch College of Education, Christchurch
Awards and Distinctions: Ohakune Open Section Award (1992, 94, 98); Telecom Art Award - Finalist (1997); Ohakune Life Studies Award (1996); Barton Cranleigh Drawing Award, Robert McDougall Annex, Christchurch - Finalist (1995); Ohakune Premier Art Award (1993); Anderson Lloyd Award, Otago - 2nd Place (1991); Royal Overseas League Competition - Highly Commended (1991); Ohakune Barnes Young Artist Award (1990); Taranaki Bursary Grant (1990)
Selected Exhibitions: Vortex, Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland, Group show, Gallery 33, Wanaka (2008); Vertigo, Sanderson Contemporary Art, Auckland (2007); Aperture, Arthouse, Christchurch (2007); Antipodean, Soho Galleries, Central Hong Hong (2006); Timeframes, Artigiano Gallery, Auckland (2005); Landmarks, Artigiano Gallery, Auckland (2004); Concrete Heaven, Artigiano Gallery, Auckland (2003); Splendid (New Zealand Group Show), Convent Garden, London (2002); RIM (New Zealand Group Show), Mafuji Gallery, London (2002);Solo exhibition, Freud's Gallery, London (2001); Solo exhibition, INDO Gallery, London (2001); Who’s the Freak, Taranaki Museum (1998); Virtual Tart, Internet exhibition (1998); Triple Red (Group Show with Simon Kahn and Kirsty Grieve), New Plymouth Art Gallery, New Plymouth (1997); Michael Smither/Jane Mitchell duo show, New Plymouth Art Gallery, New Plymouth (1996); Solo exhibition, Troubadour, New Plymouth (1995); Honours Solo Exhibition, Milford Galleries, Dunedin (1991); Otago School of Fine Arts Senior Exhibition, Otago Museum, Dunedin (1991); Mainland, Otago Arts Society, Dunedin (1991); Robertson Art Award Retrospective Exhibition, Sargeant Gallery, Wanganui (1991); Waverley Young Perspectives Exhibition, Waverley (1991); Student Exhibition, Otago (1989, 91)