6 October - 10 December 2016
TJ Boulting is delighted to present the gallery’s third solo show with Stephanie Quayle. Jenga comprises her large-scale installation, which was first commissioned for the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 as part of the group exhibition Vita Vitale, curated by Artwise for the Azerbaijan Pavilion. The theme of the pavilion asked artists to explore the human impact on the natural world and the future preservation and sustainability of the planet’s environment and ecosystem.
Stephanie Quayle has long been fascinated with the animal form, and creates expressive life-size sculptures fired in clay that capture the movement and character of the creature, from imposing elephants to mischievous monkeys. For this commission she responded with her most ambitious work to date, a giant ‘jenga’ installation with over forty monkeys of various shapes and sizes, perched atop the stacked wooden structure. The monkeys were specifically chosen ash they are endangered species – Golden Lion Tamarins, Cotton Top Tamarins, Snub Nose monkeys (with the blue faces), little Emperor Tamarins (with the white whiskers) and the larger Vervets and Macaques. Jenga is the well-known game whereby wood blocks are placed in a towerlike formation one on top of each other. Each block is then tentatively removed one by one until the structure collapses. The ‘jenga’ reference here is a metaphor for the instability of the monkeys’ plight, that they sit all over it unknowing of their fate, the fragile nature of their existence out of their control and in the hands of humans – will we continue to destroy the planet, one by one pulling the wooden pieces out of the structure until it all tumbles down?
The wood itself is old and decaying, reclaimed joists from timber barns and old wooden railway sleepers, with the lingering smell of creosote a reminder of man’s toxic influence. It also alludes to the wood lost in deforestation, the senseless bringing down of habitats and irreparable damage of ecosystems. Her monkeys in turn are poised, looking, watching, waiting - to see what the next move in this giant game will bring them. In the back room she presents ‘Congress’, a group of imposing orangutans sitting in a circle on top of
their crates, a symbol of their own captivity despite their size and gracious presence.
Stephanie Quayle studied at the Slade and Royal College of Art, London. Her work has been exhibited in 2016 in the RA Summer Exhibition, a group show of women artists at the Saatchi Gallery, in 2015 as part of the 56th Venice Biennale and has been commissioned by Comme des Garcons for their Tokyo and Beijing headquarters. She is currently working on a forthcoming commission for Hermes, Tokyo. She lives and works in the Isle of Man, UK.