This week, Jo Bloggs’ latest exhibition at The Rabbit Room is an installation of tiny paintings. Those who know her work will find continuity from earlier exhibitions in the fine detailed work of the paintings (this time of fabric patterns) and an ongoing interest in the home-related decorative subjects.

Jo loves clothes. Her distinctive flamboyant style is almost as iconic as her work, and the breadth of her wardrobe is equalled only by her prolific output as an artist. As always, taking inspiration from home, Within These 4 Walls sees Jo Blogg immortalise her style under a microscopic eye – 170 diminutive square pattern studies rendered painstakingly in paint in a kaleidoscope of colour.

The Rabbit Room owner Karin Strachin, describes them as somehow like wardrobe swatches and says, “Actually, it is a form of self portraiture. Women get it instantly, because of our special relationships with what we wear and what our clothes mean to us – like a connection to weddingand the memories they evoke. Clothes reflect identity, the choices about what we wear and therefore have significant meaning to us,” says Strachin. 

“Jo’s meticulous attention to detail is a key to recognising her work, repetition in large quantity and themes that come through like layers in the work, you get drawn into it, people recognise some of the fabric patterns from times past that evoke memories – the installation has created a lot of discussion.”

Jo herself forged her own emotional relationship with the clothes – where they were acquired, the events to which they were worn, the conversations and connections made while wearing them and often, the person they were gifted to when their life with her was done; a flow of clothing worn through a life of art. In this way each work captures a piece of history.

For Jo, this was a personal journey through clothes. A lockdown project that allowed her to delve into what each piece means, how it made her feel. Few of the pieces were new, most came from fossicking op shops or were gifted by friends. 

The process of producing this exhibition presented an opportunity to ponder the secret life of garments. Each piece began life in the mind of a designer inspired to create pattern and form. Each piece was worn by someone or someones before who brought with them their own hopes dreams and aspirations. 

‘Within these 4 Walls’ is showing at The Rabbit Room, Hastings Street, Napier and closes on 30 October. Opening hours: Wednesday Thursday Friday 11-3, Sat 11-2

Sources: Rosheen Fitzgerald and Karin Strachin

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