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Keyhole Paintings

Image copyright Fern Petrie 2017

Fern Petrie, Keyhole Paintings, Oil on Canvas, 2017.

These tiny paintings were created as evocative glimpses into the mind. Small in scale but painstakingly detailed they give the impression that only a fraction of the story is revealed; it’s up to the viewer to open their imagination and recreate the rest. These works were first inspired by Georgian miniatures, especially lover’s eye paintings; a gift given for a number of reasons where only a tiny portion of the face is revealed and known only to the recipient. They were miniature trinkets of love speaking in colour and form of desire and unfulfilled yearning.

Each of these little keyhole paintings tells its own story be it a lover’s eye; a close up face which may signal an all engrossing love or obsession or a portrait where the sitter is clothed or metamorphosing into a collection of objects which represent their dreams, ambitions or desires.

Within my work shells, coral or pearls can represent the souls yearning for adventure and discovery. They may also signify the limits of our physical existence or understanding of the world, limits that might not always be a barrier to a passionate mind. Fern’s hark back to the Victorian obsession with the collecting, preserving and cataloguing of that plant; speaking of social expectations and a need for control or a reaction against that control.  Feathers may suggest a wish for freedom or to nest and masks of a sense of fun, daring and duplicity. I don’t wish to place many restrictions on how these works are viewed. They are tiny glimpses as if through the keyhole into the psychological world of the sitter reflected back through the mind of each viewer.

Each painting is set in a reproduction or vintage frame. My favorites; Cameo Creation frames were first manufactured in America during the 1940’s until the 70’s . Imperfect and aged as they are I find them evocative, talking of the passage of time. They have existed for roughly the same span as a human life and show in their wear, patina and discoloration that they have also been on a journey, one which has not yet ended.

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