Sailing ships, war air-balloons, waka, aeroplanes, blimps, Chinese junks and dragon flies take to the skies and sea, on the search for new and abundant lands; provisioning. Jenna Packer reflects on history by creating a painted world, perhaps fantastical, of another dimension.
Amidst vast oceans, pataka (storehouses on posts) offer sustenance to the pioneers, on their long journeys to the unknown. These could be looked upon as marker posts, supply routes, also doubling for the airship docking mast or WWII warning system radar towers. They act as points along the way, to stop, reflect, and renew before carrying on the journey (both physical and psychological).
Oil rigs stand elegantly, like unfinished Eiffel Towers amidst vast ocean - a monument of the industrial age, with so much promise, yet at what cost?
Landforms appear in a number of the works, familiar, and recognisable as the shapes and forms around Otago’s peninsular. Sailing ships and waka travel across water, weaving their way through wild and untamed bush in the work Provisioning, looking for shoreline in which to dock. A single tuft of smoke looms over the dark trees, someone has already claimed their piece of the land. Is this a history that is only now being recorded - a snippet of time forgotten amongst historical accounts of grandeur?
Two waterways meet in Orokonui High Tide, generating an abundance of provisions. Land has been cleared, trees are felled, and figures fish in the waist deep waters. Land has also been domesticated in Clearing and Beached, where fires burn and huts are erected. By picturing a past, Packer comments about our future; we are always in search for the next discovery, changing the environment to suit our needs, but what happens when we run out of provisions? Or when the natural environment is so manipulated it can no longer be cultivated? Or when there is nowhere new to go?
Jenna Packer’s delicate and detailed works have an illustrative quality that at times crosses the boundaries between painting and drawing. The old world colours speak of the past yet the themes and ideas within her subject matter opens dialogues about provisioning that affect us in our contemporary world and as we look towards the future.