Jane Norrie Review

Exhibition Gallery, Milton Keynes
In her Elizabeth 1 series Diane Roberts plunders the allegorical wealth of imagery in the Hatfield House portraits, and re-uses it for her own rich ends. The loaded symbols of the portraiture, such as the ermine for purity, phoenix for rebirth and snake for wisdom, are dramatically enlarged, rainbow-meshed and interwoven, and boldly coloured. Literally and metaphorically they are stood on their head! In playfully yet powerfully manipulating her chosen images, the artist robs them of their original potency and invests them with a new significance of her own. With a few exceptions such as rainbow and tree, the resulting megs-oils stand convincingly in their own right both visually and mentally stimulating.
The phoenix and the twisted Ruff is a good example of the satisfying complexity of the work. A huge white ruff is stunningly interlaced across a pair of lustred and bejewelled phoenix framing the dark background is a delightfully elegant border of long-fingered, sequinned gloves. The surface colour is as bright as the design is bold but when it emerges that one phoenix is upside down a curious tension creeps in, setting up an ambiguous play between the upturned image and the surrounding symbols of power. Added depth is given by the subtlety of the background where an entire underlay is created by intricately stained and printed regal emblems.
Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the protagonists seem to take off on their own. Serpents swirl in water, and ermine pose in a rainbow dance. In Ermine in the Garden 1&11 the ermine (i.e. the creature as opposed to the fur) seems to take o a contemporary persona as a modern Eve. First climbing the tree of Knowledge, then astride it, the creature is encircled by entwining snaked. Whether curvy symbols of female power or pitfalls in her path, the role of the serpents if typical of the subversive intriguing duality that runs through the work. As for the take-off Botticelli, in baby blue and pink, the Birth of the Ermine, where a cuddly comic strip creature nestles cutely in its shell, it is pure farce. The oils are complemented by a series of prints of which ruff and glove 1&11 stand out as gems. Exquisite tactile sepia coloured gloves lie against shell-like ruffs against a background of beautifully gradated mauve and violet: intensely potent female imaged. Now that our sensed have been dulled of the over-repetition of gestural boldness favoured by the young, it is a joy to see work that is at the same time bold, yet subtle, imaginative yet craftsman like. (To Sep 17: and at Blackburn Museum & art Gallery Nov 12-Dec 10)
Jane Norrie
Arts Review 9 September 1988
Exhibition Gallery, Milton Keynes
In her Elizabeth 1 series Diane Roberts plunders the allegorical wealth of imagery in the Hatfield House portraits, and re-uses it for her own rich ends. The loaded symbols of the portraiture, such as the ermine for purity, phoenix for rebirth and snake for wisdom, are dramatically enlarged, rainbow-meshed and interwoven, and boldly coloured. Literally and metaphorically they are stood on their head! In playfully yet powerfully manipulating her chosen images, the artist robs them of their original potency and invests them with a new significance of her own. With a few exceptions such as rainbow and tree, the resulting megs-oils stand convincingly in their own right both visually and mentally stimulating.
The phoenix and the twisted Ruff is a good example of the satisfying complexity of the work. A huge white ruff is stunningly interlaced across a pair of lustred and bejewelled phoenix framing the dark background is a delightfully elegant border of long-fingered, sequinned gloves. The surface colour is as bright as the design is bold but when it emerges that one phoenix is upside down a curious tension creeps in, setting up an ambiguous play between the upturned image and the surrounding symbols of power. Added depth is given by the subtlety of the background where an entire underlay is created by intricately stained and printed regal emblems.
Like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the protagonists seem to take off on their own. Serpents swirl in water, and ermine pose in a rainbow dance. In Ermine in the Garden 1&11 the ermine (i.e. the creature as opposed to the fur) seems to take o a contemporary persona as a modern Eve. First climbing the tree of Knowledge, then astride it, the creature is encircled by entwining snaked. Whether curvy symbols of female power or pitfalls in her path, the role of the serpents if typical of the subversive intriguing duality that runs through the work. As for the take-off Botticelli, in baby blue and pink, the Birth of the Ermine, where a cuddly comic strip creature nestles cutely in its shell, it is pure farce. The oils are complemented by a series of prints of which ruff and glove 1&11 stand out as gems. Exquisite tactile sepia coloured gloves lie against shell-like ruffs against a background of beautifully gradated mauve and violet: intensely potent female imaged. Now that our sensed have been dulled of the over-repetition of gestural boldness favoured by the young, it is a joy to see work that is at the same time bold, yet subtle, imaginative yet craftsman like. (To Sep 17: and at Blackburn Museum & art Gallery Nov 12-Dec 10)
Jane Norrie
Arts Review 9 September 1988