Here at Art on a Postcard we are honoured to have PJ Crook as a contributing artist for our Art on a Ukulele project. Crook is a British painter and sculptor, living and working in her home town of Gloustershire. Her exhibition at the Museum of Gloustershire ‘broke records’ which is not surprising when you consider her contributions to the art scene in her home town. In 2011 Crook received an MBE for her services to art. Whereas often painters use a subject, still-life or photograph to work from, Crook has said that her works come from memory and her imagination which is telling in what we see as the end results.
Crook has established a trademark style. Her work is often centred around urban crowds where the figures overlap, and the depth of field is worked in such a way that our perception is skewed. In this way her paintings are sensually manipulative because they seem at certain times flat but at others as though they contain such extraordinary depth. For instance in works such as Good Morning, M. Balladur, similar to when you look at an optical illusion, it is hard to tell the distance between each character and yet you can understand the atmosphere that they are in. It is a view on modern life that appears distant and surreal, like memories can.
There is a playful theatricality to Crook’s work that helps to create her distinctive style. Often set in crowded areas where communities gather such as circuses, theatres, commutes to work, town centres, football games and swimming pools, she finds the connection between individuals, communities and theatre. In works such as Cinema, Crook flips the spectacle away from the screen and into the individual reactions of the audience. There are the two sailors, one with his lover and the other alone, you wonder how awkward the date is that they are on… There is the couple caught kissing at the back under the spotlight of the assistant… The critic at the front taking notes, and the man directly behind him who is either yawning or amazed, we cannot tell… and then there is the elusive detective or perhaps villain coming down the aisle in a trench coat. Her crowds are brimming with narrative, creating a spectacle of modern life and causing us to assess and critique it in the same way the man on the front row reviews the film. As one critic from the Independent wrote, her work is ‘witty, menacing, enigmatic, playing games with the eye and the imagination’.
In 2016, Crook had an exhibition at Morohashi Museum of Modern Art, in Japan and was attended by three million visitors. Her work has featured in the pop culture arena too, creating album art for sixties rock band King Crimson for instance.
We’re extremely excited to see in what innovative manner PJ Crook approaches our Art on a Ukulele project so please join us to find out more by signing up to our mailing list (at the bottom of the page) to receive updates about this project and to find out about our crowdfunding campaign, the rewards we are offering and be part of the process over the next few months.
About the writer
Rosa Torr is a final year BA Politics and Philosophy student from London currently at University College Dublin. Her place of interest is political theory and in particular Gender Studies. Rosa has written for numerous online publications and the University Observer. She is also a theatre maker and is currently co-artistic director of BUMP&GRIND Theatre Company. The show she co-wrote BUMP will be on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer.