Through subtle sculptural gestures, Jenny Loft offers meditations on place and the importance of environmental care. Her tactile forms of bronze, plaster, wax or glass – the latter frequently paired with found industrial objects – stress their material properties, conjuring the physical energy of natural landscapes.
Loft often imbues her work with personal experiences of nature, a fascination that has endured since growing up in the bush outside Adelaide. “We lived on the edge of a national park and those are things that have drawn me very strongly to nature and to place,” she explains. “Australia, as an island continent, has many coastal stories to be told. Not all of them dreamy, sun-soaked yarns. New stories come to mind, of invading species, king tides and receding coastlines.”
Her upcoming show at Stephen McLaughlan Gallery continues this focus. The exhibition features various sculptures, photographs and a central sitespecific installation. Suspended from the ceiling, this large-scale work draws on the strength of the natural landscape, coupled with tensions created by human intervention. This friction between natural and man-made is also apparent in Loft’s sculptures of glass fused with industrial metal artefacts, including The Last Ice Shelf, 2013. Here, delicate light-blue glass is on the brink of puncture by an imposing metal object originally used by her husband while working in Antarctica. The work speaks of the disappearance of Antarctic ice shelves, highlighting the need to acutely rethink our impact on the planet.
Traversing bush, rivers, rocks and ice, Loft provokes visitors to envision and contemplate diverse terrain. “I like people to take in the imagery and then they may even feel or hear their own stories.”
This article was originally published in the November/December 2019 print edition of Art Guide Australia.