Jenny Mehrtens is an Arrowtown based artist, primarily a painter, she has had several group and solo exhibitions and her work can be found in private collections worldwide.
“As an artist, I’m driven to explore and communicate ideas.
I am interested in exploring my cultural identity. My ancestors came to New Zealand over 160 years ago and there has always been a part of me that thinks I’m Scottish yet I have never been to Scotland! I am embracing my “New Zealandness” and all that that means. Māori art and culture have been around me all my life and naturally I look to that for inspiration. I want to celebrate the beautiful images that I grew up with.
My journey into the sort of art I have been producing in recent years has come from an interest in the history of Aotearoa/New Zealand. This has led me on an exploration of artefacts and archival photos and learning Te Reo. Like any learning in life, the more I learnt the more I fascinated I became. i have always felt that through learning there is a better understanding, and through my art I hope to communicate ideas to people.
I do not have any Māori whakapapa or pēpēha. I am a Pakeha New Zealander making observations (I hope respectfully), and trying to discover what is my cultural heritage. I have a huge regard and respect for Māori art and culture and am trying to navigate a commentary on this though my own art.
I see a flow in the patterning, with shapes and textures that are derived from nature and spiritual forces. I see proud people with stories in their eyes - I see objects that have meaning to us – influences and images that remind us of our heritage. With this in mind, I have made my own marks and textures that project out of my works.
As to materials, from early on in my artistic journey, I have used gold leaf and developed a modern application of it on oak board. The grain of the oak, the sheen of the leaf and staining with acrylic paint in layers all give an effect that changes with light and viewing angles.
I’ve shaped these elements to produce a range of works that I’m proud of and that are seen and enjoyed around the world – an amalgam and celebration of early and modern New Zealand, and a blend of Māori and Pakeha.”