As an artist, Jennie Holland has always been drawn to the personal, painting and sketching works that lay bare her heart.
“I don’t like painting scenery,” Holland says with a laugh.
Painting has always been cathartic for Holland, who studied illustration in the U.K. before moving to Canada to escape an abusive relationship.
When she was tasked with painting the ghost of Gaia as a cover for a book of poetry, Holland filled it with messages, winding satire and substances into Mother Earth’s surreal world.
“I like to paint with little hidden meanings,” says Holland, who lives in Pitt Meadows.
The only information Holland had to begin her painting were the words “Gaia” and “Phoenix.”
She had yet to read the poem the painting would accompany.
Google and you will learn that she’s a goddess, and not just any old goddess that one might imagine sitting up in the clouds playing chess with our lives but the very personification of Earth.
“She had all that power. Her lover was the distant planet of rings, Saturn, and her children were those up in the sky and those of the sea,”’ says Holland.
When she imagined Gaia’s ghost, she saw a woman who was pretty beat up – burden by the havoc humans have wreaked on the environment, pummelled and scarred by human progress.
Painted in an swirl of bright colours, Holland’s Gaia wears a stretched mask, her face hideously made up.
Mother Gaia is healing, giving birth from her full belly.
She is a skeleton of what she once was and wears a mask so that none will know; but soon this phoenix will rise and fly away, the broken roots once again finding their place.
“In a nutshell, I painted a satirical exposure of how females always rise back up, no matter how awful the pain. It might take us a while, but then we remember. We are, after all, women,” says Holland.
Holland and her friend Stella Renée Morrow have teamed up for a fundraiser for Cythera House, a women’s shelter in Maple Ridge.
The night will be a celebration of women’s courage and feature Holland’s art, a poetry reading by Morrow and much more.
Morrow’s collection of writing titled Gaia’s Ghost explores the inability to flee love’s darker side and the strength of women to rise out of ashes, just like the mythical Phoenix.
The Gaia’s Ghost Extravaganza Show takes place Friday, May 24 at LanaLou’s, 362 Powell Street, Gastown, Vancouver.Pianist Tania G. will open the evening with live perfomance.The evening will feature art by surrealist Jenni Holland and a reading by Stella Renée Morrow. The entertainment will also include an eclectic mix of rock, funk, blues and jazz music by indie chart favorites: MG Graveyard and Two Apple Tobacco. Part of the proceeds from the sale of the Gaia’s Ghost book and merchandise (such as postcards and buttons) will be donated to Cythera Transition House Society.The show starts promptly at 8 p.m. Tickets at the door for $10.