British-New Zealand artist Jelly Green is known for creating paintings that capture her passion for the natural world, and her latest exhibition, Burn, is no exception. In it, she focuses on the state of the world's forests with a series of bold and dramatic paintings that brutally depict trees bursting into flames.
Hosted at London's Noho Studios from 31 March until 3 April 2022, Burn contains 40 large format pieces of work by Jelly Green which draw attention to the state of the world's forests and man's continual destruction of these precious habitats. Vibrant, moving and epic, these heaped paintings pack a visual style that clearly acknowledges the influence of her mentor, Maggi Hambling.
Having spent the last eight years living and working in forests worldwide, the paintings on display at Burn are the culmination of her experiences. Inspired by drawings and paintings which she originally created in the jungle, the work in the exhibition also contains imagery pulled from her memories of these environments.
As well as tapping into Jelly's love for the natural world, forests, in particular, have a deeper connection with the artist. One of her earliest childhood recollections is of her family driving through a bush fire in New South Wales, Australia, so the paintings on display draw on her first-hand experiences of the devastating consequences of deforestation.
"This exhibition is a lens through which I have focused my fear, anger and frustration," Jelly tells Creative Boom. "I have been working on these paintings for the last three years, and they are an attempt to mark the moment that we currently face. Unchecked, our reckless exploitation and pollution of the Natural World have gathered pace. Like the forest fire, we are laying waste to fragile and precious ecosystems. Our horizons are red, and there is smoke in the air."
She adds that while forests are beautiful and intriguing places that feed the soul and imagination, they are also crucial to preserving the planet. "Trees are important living beings in a shared world," she explains.
"With forests often described as 'the lungs of the planet', we ignore them at our peril. They are one of the Earth's primary carbon sinks, which are areas that absorb more carbon than they release. They breathe in the carbon dioxide we create and breathe out the oxygen we need to breathe in. It is this symbiotic relationship between trees and humans that interests me."
Jelly's mentor since she was 16, artist Maggi Hambling, says: "I have watched the continuous development of Jelly Green's painting for some years now. Her work increases in intensity. She is passionate about her subject matter – the electrical charge for any artist.
"In 2019, she held her exhibition 'Devour'at the Oxo Tower, and we were deep in the jungle, with just a hint of what was to come. The paintings held the authority of experience as she had travelled and worked in Brazil, Borneo, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
"Now her forests burn. It is both terrifying and beautiful. We are here as witnesses of destruction. We feel the red-hot heat as her fires consume us."
As well as the paintings on display at Burn, Jelly has been working with her sister and digital composer Lily Hunter Green to marry individual paintings with soundscapes that encapsulate the atmosphere and intensity of these burning paintings.
In a further commitment to aiding the world's forests, 10 per cent of all proceeds raised by Burn will go to REGUA, a Brazilian non-profit organisation committed to conserving the upper Guapiaçu watershed, near Rio de Janeiro. REGUA protects over 25,000 acres of forest, and Jelly has continued her support since her inaugural solo show in 2018.