Short Stories – paintings by Jane Thorne, inspired by Katherine Mansfield July 2021

Posted by Fiona Cable on

Artist Jane Thorne recently discovered a kinship with the philosophy of Katherine Mansfield. Like Mansfield, she blurs the boundary between the human and the nonhuman, endowing moths and bugs with anthropomorphic thought and expressions. She utilises the unique qualities of insects to draw attention to human failings while appreciating the life of other natural entities through empathy and great detail.

There are several wonderful descriptions in KM’s short stories comparing insects with humans, for example in The Stranger, “you could just see little couples parading - little flies walking up and down the dish on the grey crinkled tablecloth”. In Thorne's painting, Garden Party, named after KM’s short story, she meticulously illustrates glimmering beetles in procession at the lavish societal party. Further down, these bugs crawl through the kowhai flowers of 1920s wallpaper. This references KM’s commentary where the main character attempts to breach the gap in the social class system.

KM struggled relentlessly against the social parameters of the day. Beneath her wholesome exterior, concealed within her carefully crafted words, there often lies something unexpected; sometimes something very strange or confronting is laid bare.

It is the obscure and often overlooked aspects of life that Thorne aspires to uncover. To invite viewers to look deeper and consider the darker aspects similarly to Mansfield’s writings. KM’s stories and journals are littered with unpleasant subjects and emotions, yet she pulls the reader in with beautiful prose. In turn, Thorne enchants us with her glorious hand painted creations accented with shimmering beetle wings and bug antennae, yet danger lurks close by. In her painting, Honeymoon, where the crimson-speckled footman moth Utetheisa pulchelloides takes on the star role, summer fun comes to a chilly end. During this Erebidae’s life cycle it manages to fly to tropical climes 1000s of kilometres from its origin only to die in wintertime. Read between the title headline here.

Jane Thorne Short Stories

In keeping with the Mansfield semblance, Thorne brings her romanticised view of the 1920s and her love of antiques into the gallery space. Peek inside the partly open writing desk, a surprise may lurk inside. Take a seat on her chaise lounge. Be spellbound with bugs both monstrous and beautiful. Although not real, her beetles and bugs appear capable of flying or crawling from the surface at any given moment. Using the medium of acrylic on wood panel for most paintings, a loose brush stroke or vintage wallpaper peeling from her studio wall appears on the canvases. Whimsical formations; swarming forces of good and evil that reveals the seedy underbelly of human nature.

To view Thorne's work click here.

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