Self Portrait with Portals by Jenni Dutton

Originally posted here

Rarely am I moved to actual tears by a piece of writing but Jenni Dutton’s marvellous Self Portrait with Portals has touched on something deep. How do we connect with memory and what happens to memory over time? What is the role of the object in keeping us together, in keeping us whole. I love how Jenni creates her portals within the portrait – inserting the objects quite literally into her features. An embodiment of the urge to unite with the object to fuse with our memories and maintain a sense of self.

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Self Portrait with Portals by Jenni Dutton

Self Portrait With Portals started as a painting on MDF as part of a mixed show in a shipping container on Watchet Docks, Contains Art.

I needed to express more of myself than just a likeness, so sliced up the painting and created recesses in which to place some small objects I had saved up during my life. Growing up in an army family we moved all through my childhood and at boarding school, some items took on a preciousness and almost talisman like quality. The top left hand recess has a medal I won at netball, the middle space contains a tiny tiny doll and a slightly larger one. A brooch belonging to my grandmother lies in the floor of the bottom portal. There is no space here to explain what memories these objects conjure up in my adult mind of my childish self. Those fears and fantasies, stories woven around the pieces, which I no longer know if they are really true. Does this matter? It brings to mind all the things one has lost… I should have put them in The Museum of Objects to keep them safe.

Jenni Dutton