Brownie Guides was a serious learning curve for me. I was fresh out of the land of finger painting and percussion lessons (infant school) when I was thrust into the town hall and found, not a finishing school for eight-to-ten-year-olds, but a pit of pre-pubescent experimentation. When I was supposed to be learning how to build campfires and make dream catchers, what I was actually doing was learning to go for wees in the woods and how mean girls can be when they’re practising being grown-ups.
Jennie Ottinger knows. We first came across the California-based artist’s paintings of tennis matches last year, and this series of images of camps, parades and playgrounds is similarly fascinating in its critique of suburban society. Jennie extracts the naïve playfulness of young and old alike to expose the faintly sinister undertone lurking beneath. She often plays upon tragically comic scenes that others tend to skirt around, creating humorous and sometimes scathing images about various nostalgic elements of our culture. Lovely and terrifying in almost equal measure.