Jennifer Louise Martin’s new large-scale paintings continue to explore the expression of emotion and the female psyche, along with the projection of the artist’s personal experience in becoming a mother and postpartum depression.
‘Hear My Cry’ is Jennifer’s first film and while she has more recently explored the narrative in her paintings, this is the first time she is manifesting her story and its psychological dimensions on film. Jennifer’s paintings were used as both backdrops and inspiration for the set décor that she helped design and create. The women in the paintings represent self-portraits in various emotional mind states. The ambience of the location house, that remains in its original state since the 1950s’, provides a perfect reminiscence. The miniature dolls house decorated by the artist herself replicating the filmset décor, represents the attempt to control her thoughts but only to be confronted with the chaos of her sub-conscious mind. The camera frequently moves between the real house and the miniature set creating a dynamic interplay and warped sense of scale, referring to her surrealist inner world. Cut- out eyes are found multiplying on the staircase making reference to the plaguing external judgements that are made when transitioning to being a new mother.
Starring Jennifer as herself and model Marlen Fjelstad playing her alter ego, the film was directed by multi-disciplinary artist Aaron Bevan-Bailey and film director and stylist Beth Buxton. Their mixture of talents combine a strong artistic vision through directing, photography & creative direction. This dynamic team collaborated with Jennifer to realise her experience of becoming a mother, resulting in a short film that has distinct style, sumptuous surrealism, high fashion sensibility with a sinister undertone. It tells the story of the woman in the painting based on the artists’ own personal memoirs, emotions, intrusive thoughts and recurrent dreams that she encountered during her suffering with postnatal depression (PND). The emphasis is on the new mother trying to maintain the ideals of a social construct, yet tormented by the trickery of her mind and her symptoms of the destructive illness. Her alter ego takes the viewer on a journey of obsessional thinking, the repetition of the mundane, overwhelm, loss of memory, derealisation, shame, exhaustion, intense anger, disconnection and longing. Some of the props purposefully made in 2D form such as the milk bottles, roast chicken dinner and a painting of her daughter in her cot, further reinforce the artifice and distance between idealised motherhood and her reality, whilst also projecting this experience of a distorted reality onto the viewer.
The scene with cut-outs of ‘A sea of children’ represents a dream the artist experienced once her daughter was almost two years old, whereby she loses sight of her baby in a sea of children and eventually identifies her child wearing a matching floral print. We see her alter ego’s preoccupation with her increasingly traumatic emotions over the course of a day and is found submerging herself in a ‘Mamie Pink’ pretty pastel bath, a moment of catharsis whilst relieving her suicidal thoughts and washing away the remnants of her inner turmoil, giving us hope that she will win her battle.
Bath scene edit
Q&A with creative director Jennifer Louise Martin, directors Beth Buxton & Aaron Bevan-Bailey
and arts journalist Ginanne Brownell.
DO NOT DISTURB INSTALLATION
48 Brook Street, W1, London
This installation depicts a theatrical room from a short film set hosted by Illuminate Productions, which was made by the artist during the pandemic whilst recovering from postpartum depression. The installation invites onlookers to be a fly on the wall and on set days the installation will also feature the artist herself dressed up in character in the window doing her knitting and recording her thoughts to create a monologue.