Marie Jacotey @ Hannah Barry Gallery

Marie Jacotey
Morning Defeats
Hannah Barry Gallery


Parisian artist Marie Jacotey strikes me as a bit of a cool girl. She probably wears cool clothes, goes to cool places, dates cool boys and draws all day without a care in the world. The protagonist in her drawings certainly is, anyway, whilst embodying the multi-faceted parts of ourselves whether it be the Beyoncé listening super strong diva, or the vulnerable eat-a-tub-of-Ben-and-Jerrys-in-the-night part of us. Either way, it is a completely frank telling of human experience, and that in itself is cool. This makes Hannah Barry’s cool art gallery in Peckham the perfect place to display 30 of her most recent drawings in the exhibition Morning Defeats – a reference to the kind of morning that comes after the kind of sleepless night that everyone has had, where one’s troubles seem amplified in the dark long solitude of nighttime. The morning arrives with the lingering feeling of hopelessness still in the air.

I map a constellation
I am a cucumber
made entirely of water
like my face-down sister
made also entirely of water
we’re so full of it
sailors topple off the deck
in wet and dusty mushroom hats
they look like mascots in a donut shop
cascading smiling past the portholes
with flags in their pockets
they would have been nice to take home
in my polka dot bikini
they just can’t stop looking
at me
Rachael Allen

There is an palpable rawness to these drawings in both subject and material. Most are relatively small, or at least small enough that you have to get up close and personal with the pastel on Japanese paper illustrations. They come in beautifully designed frames by Soft Baroque, keeping the primitive nature of thought by not marring the compositions with bulky components. The intensity of emotion speaks of a female experience not unfamiliar, at least to me. Sex, intimacy, solitude, the morning defeatLike pages straight out of a journal, they illustrate everyday social interactions and tensions of interior thought. I thought you liked me, but then again no. The landscapes that appear come from rural Normandy to Brighton and the Scottish Highlands. Even Alcatraz.


Bye baby: I thought you liked me 2016 Oil paint on dust sheet 152 x 115 cm


A salmon pink satin curtain hangs in the middle of the room on the ground floor, sectioning it in half. The gallery seems even more intimate. Having graduated with an MA in printmaking from the RCA in 2013, transferring her drawings onto fabric with textile pens, crayons and dyes seems like a natural step. These days she works from a studio in a shared building run by the artist collective Assemble in Bermondsey, in a community of likeminded people. It speaks in her work.

The combination of text and image are fully intertwined, leaving the viewer in no doubt about their response. Which is perhaps why it was so pertinent for Jacotey to collaborate with poet Rachael Allen on a book that accompanies the exhibition: Nights of Poor Sleep. Produced by Test Centre, its a beautiful creative collaboration that speaks to the critical engagement of poetry with the visual arts- how they interact, and inform, one another.

The show is now sadly over, as I caught it on it’s last day (and I’m so glad that I did) but luckily you can see Marie Jacotey’s drawings here


Morning defeats & Gloria Victis (detail)


Rodeo fun on a Sunday

In the living room is a man who loves me more than the last man
who made me feel like I was falling off a cliff
and if it feels like you’re falling off a cliff
you just might be

awful feeling when the sun begins to thinly shine at dawn
as in the Arctic, or on Mars
who knows what the sun’s doing there
my eyes don’t focus completely
giving everything a crescent edge
so when I look into the pupil of my lover
it has to dilate

don’t give up the ghost
I followed him all around Surrey
around the larger parts of an unfamiliar forest
he took me to the cheap parts of Sheen
we made love in a net curtain
it took me hours to lift the pattern from my thigh
it was the only time I wore a blouse
and he blew his nose all over it

suppose just once he tried to impress my father
taking him fishing, pulling up long waders and just striding into the lake
until he’s actually drowning
why will no one put themselves through that for me?

for my long-suffering father
who perambulates in his head across the table
lowering his glasses
he can smell what they’re about to do
like a damn police dog
he drops his head down on his chest

Rachael Allen

Sorry but not sorry, 2017



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