Robyn Penn I Sentinels
4 – 28 March 2023
Curated by Nina Dyer and presented at Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence St, Devonport.
With encaustic and graphite drawings and oil paintings of clouds that are at once awe-inspiring and ominous, and ink drawings depicting climate scientists arrested for speaking out Robyn Penn’s subject matter engages with the climate crisis
Devonport, Auckland –
“…Art has always been a rallying force to drive social change, it has the power to move, persuade and inspire action,” said John Kenneth Paranada, the first curator of art and climate change for a museum in the UK, the Sainsbury Centre. In the last few weeks alone, we’ve both watched and experienced extreme weather events across the planet and in Aotearoa turn global warming from a distant threat into our tangible present.
In Sentinels, a solo exhibition by artist Robyn Penn in the Street front gallery at Depot Artspace, Penn captures the drama, awe, and reverence of the natural world in the midst of a climate breakdown. Situating the romantic treatment of nature firmly in a 21st century context, encaustic and graphite drawings of single clouds become suspended visions, at once ominous and awe- inspiring. A new series of oil paintings render clouds in dramatic depth against the deepest night sky, reappropriating the eighteenth-century concept of the sublime: the complex emotional response of wonder and terror that is inspired by nature’s greatness and impossible beauty.
They’re brought down to earth by a series of ink drawings that depict climate protestors being arrested. Paradoxically titled, ‘The Protectors’, the series underscores the irony present: Those trying to save the planet are not the officials, but rather the perpetrators under arrest.
Penn’s work sees the image of the cloud as a recurring reference to climate debates, as well as a symbol for the uncertainty that is both global and personal.