Coming of Age

Jane Simcock
Jun 5 to Jun 25
Jane Simcock: Interior Monologue (detail).

From time immemorial Western art and culture have worshipped the dual concepts of Youth and Beauty. From the Venus de Milo (albeit with severed limbs) to Vogue cover girls, we have been fed a constant diet of pert-breasted, fertile young Aphrodites and strapping, young, and vigorous Adonises. What’s more, despite the fact that we now belong to a new, more enlightened age that purports to embrace diversity - racial, religious, and sexual - never has this veneration been more intense. Thanks to our modern age of digital air-brush and Photoshop, we are constantly bombarded by images of impossibly thin and gym-toned young bodies, representing an ideal we can never hope to achieve, let alone maintain. Scantily-clad and smiling vacuously, they cavort about our billboards and leap from video clips, demanding our attention and adulation. So we, too, are urged to chase the dream, no longer permitted to acknowledge the changes that come with time.

Yet all the while, the others, who understand that Youth and Beauty cannot last forever, slip, unobserved into obscurity. Those with the interesting stories, and the richness of their lives etched upon their faces and bodies, are no longer deemed to be of interest. Grey? Stooped? A few extra kilos? We simply pass them by.

These paintings, therefore, are an attempt to redirect the spotlight and give the invisible their due. They are an examination of what it is to be a survivor of the cult of Youth and Beauty. And so the septuagenarian can step out proudly for her twilight dip, the op-shop grans can fossick happily in their quest for style and glamour, and the mind will never wither with a daily crossword puzzle.

- Jane Simcock

Simcock holds a BA in Art History and English, a PG Diploma in Painting, and has trained at Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney. She has staged several solo and group shows within New Zealand, painting with a style that might be termed satirical realism - endlessly fascinated by the “foibles and frailties of modern man”.