Painting metaphorical and alternate histories, Jenna Packer comments on journeys of discovery, evolution, the survival instinct of escape, fragility, and the endless possibilities of life.
Jenna Packer paints delicately detailed works that appear at first to be historical observations, but upon closer inspection present alternative social and colonial histories. Using a rich, metaphoric language, Packer’s paintings confront the viewer with questions about the seen and unseen forces that control our day-to-day lives. Her practice explores the political, economic and social constructs that shape contemporary society at both global and local levels.
Utilising techniques drawn from fresco painting, layers of pigment and glaze give Packer’s work a luminous quality and the sepia tones she chooses reinforce the idea that she is recording the past, albeit one that has not yet come to pass. The New Zealand landscape she documents is at once familiar and dreamily strange, often featuring anachronistic elements such as Montgolfier balloons, zeppelins, and Chinese junks. Tiny scenes of the everyday are integrated into her paintings and these small tableaux offer moments of intimacy within the larger social narrative Packer explores.
After graduating from Ilam School of Art in 1988 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Jenna Packer went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts in History (First-Class Honours) at the University of Canterbury the following year. Through the 1990’s she continued her education with time spent at the Glasgow Print Workshop, Otago Polytechnic, The Slade School of Art (London) and La Rouelle Studio (France). A painter, printmaker and illustrator, Packer has been exhibiting her work since 1990 both within New Zealand and abroad.