Play is many things to a child including a way to express and describe what is going on in their lives. Using their imagination children reveal life experiences and secrets without direct language.
This is not a comfortable version of Playland, the restrained palette suggests that all is not well. There is an underlying sense of unease, the children in the images are involved in some kind of a struggle.
Beverly Rhodes aim is to depict an emotional state in each work and evoke feelings of what it must be like for each child in that situation. For example, the anguish of a child feeling pulled by invisible strings. The support and comfort children give to each other.
At the same time questions are being raised that may not be able to be answered. For example, are the birds in Birdies real, imagined, metaphor, or allegory? And who or what killed the birds in Birdies?
The starting point for each work is usually an old photograph either found or from a family album. The images are transformed. The posture and facial expression worked on until the child takes on a new incarnation as a real person with the feeling needed for the work revealed. While the clothes hairstyles and colour palette all suggest an earlier time the issues referenced are starkly relevant today.
In 2012 Sally Blundell, freelance journalist and writer, said this of Rhodes work:
“The experience and insight from her previous career [clinical psychologist] are evident in the unexpressed memories and sensed emotions that resonate through her works, that disturb and maybe even frighten without making explicit the object of such disquiet.
On paper and on canvas she invites the viewer to peer into the shadowed corners of her subject’s past, using the romantic symbols of the mask, the wedding veil, the blank gaze of the subdued child to suggest a trauma that remains detached from the more acceptable scripts of family history.”
Beverly Rhodes is a Wellington based painter. Completing her MFA at RMIT, Melbourne in 2004 she has since shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions across New Zealand including shows at COCA, Christchurch, City Gallery, Wellington and Bowen Galleries. ‘Playland’ is Rhodes' follow up exhibition to her show ‘A Boy’s Birthday’ seen at Black Asterisk in 2012.