Desirable Residence by Mary Crenshaw

The Library
Friday 15 March – Sunday 5 May 2019
Open Night Friday 15 March 6pm-9pm

Desirable Residence

Mary Crenshaw’s new series of powerful paintings ‘Desirable Residence’ take home as their central theme. In paintings that boldly push ideas to the very edge, Crenshaw explores the craving for what home provides – comfort, shelter, security and stability – and the journeys we make to fulfil this need. In some canvasses the trajectory towards ‘home’ is starkly depicted, from a chaos of dense brushstrokes and a clutter of darker marks to the more serene image of a blueprint of a standard house against a white and blue ground. Most of the works convey a transitory state, often with the simple motif of home as a rectangle with an arched doorway and a triangular roof, set askew as if on uncertain foundations, or reduced to a black outline as though drawn as a graffito protest against the lack of housing.


On one level, Crenshaw addresses the universal necessity and desire for a safe home, while on the other, the work becomes a painful critique of displacement and scarcity. Fantasy and failure drive the works’ dynamic counterpoint. With an unprecedented 68.5 million people displaced, of which 10 million are stateless, Crenshaw’s concerns cannot help but take on an urgent specificity.

More about Mary

My current work addresses the flux of migrants in Italy, my adopted country of residence. Migrants live in Italian cities, yet they remain marginal, panhandling for spare change and not being allowed to mix as proper citizens. These young, enthusiastic, able-bodied people are forbidden to hold jobs, so they find themselves in limbo. In my recent paintings I take the outstretched hands, baseball cap spare-change recipients, and slumped, leaning figures as starting points; the paint does the rest.