Jerusha West

Swans in My Grandma’s Garden

“Goldenrods have a long bloom period, from late summer to mid-autumn. Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks', will continue to flower until the first frost.”

‘Swans in My Grandma’s Garden' gathers together three-and-a-half years of background research as well as works made for or coinciding with the development of a short narrative film.

The exhibition focuses on the processes behind the film rather than the end result — drawings, photographs, sculpture, paintings, costumes, music, books, research, notes, and objects sit together in the space.

Growth, fertility, maturation, symbiosis, and gestation act as a lens to consider the process of a collaborative film project and its relationship to the artist(s) and their wider research and work.

The film (though absent from the exhibition) partly emerged from an urge to explore and open dialogue around the Babyscoop era: a time when women were forced into silence over unwanted pregnancies and coerced adoptions.

Imagery and references to birth and maternity occur throughout the space whilst the violent and brutal forces within nature are also present. Simultaneously, the fertile landscape acts as a place of sanctuary and escape.

The inclusion of motifs and symbolism associated with folklore, escapism and the theatre are present and mask the discomfort and complexity of maturation: the loss of oneself in metamorphosis, like a tadpole leaving water.

Continually present amidst the process were thoughts and discussion about the rapid onset of technology and virtual living; reflections on the early twentieth century communities that existed both outside and within broader society in response to the Industrial Revolution.

Following Slow Cinema, the film cherishes the lingering shots of nature and immersion of the audience into a much slower pace in response to the quick tempo of the contemporary. It also mirrors the contradiction in the experience of the film itself, where something now so briefly seen demanded a great deal of time to be fully realised.

This all simultaneously defies and is contained within a neoliberal, capitalist order; one that is unwell and in crisis. Hollywood’s absurdist myth of stardom, greatness, and success acts as a hyper embodiment to it, the ideology in its Pierrot-harlequin form:

a red-pigmented smile above a crimson-carpeted foot.

- J.W. & G.H-S.


A conversation between Olivia Fletcher and Jerusha West discussing the exhibition available here

Jerusha West © 2022