Counter Culture
October 9, 2019 posted by Unity Wellington

Interview | Penelope Jackson

Interview | Penelope Jackson

Do you like art, crime, art crime and books? Penelope Jackson’s new book, Females in the Frame: Women, Art, and Crime (Palgrave Macmillan) is being launched at Unity, 6-7:30pm Friday 18th October 2019. All welcome. Penelope let us in on her recent and all time literary favourites and gave her expert opinion on The Monuments Men film.


Penelope was recently interviewed on RNZ. Listen to it here:
http://bit.ly/31qE0Tk

ABOUT THE BOOK
This book explores the untold history of women, art, and crime. It has long been widely accepted that women have not played an active role in the art crime world, or if they have, it has been the part of the victim or peacemaker. Females in the Frame overturns this understanding, as it investigates the female criminals who have destroyed, vandalised, stolen, and forged art, as well as those who have conned clients and committed white-collar crimes in their professional occupations in museums, libraries, and galleries. Whether prompted by a desire for revenge, for money, the instinct to protect a loved one, or simply as an act of quality control, this book delves into the various motivations and circumstances of women art criminals from a wide range of countries, including the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Romania, Germany, and France. Through a consideration of how we have come to perceive art crime and the gendered language associated with its documentation, this pioneering study questions why women have been left out of the discourse to date and how, by looking specifically at women, we can gain a more complete picture of art crime history.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Penelope Jackson is an art historian and curator based in New Zealand. A former gallery director, Jackson is a founding trustee of the New Zealand Art Crime Research Trust. She is the author of Art Thieves, Fakers & Fraudsters: The New Zealand Story (2016) and has contributed to the Journal of Art Crime and Art Crime and its Prevention (2016). Jackson has curated major exhibitions, including: award-winning Corrugations: The Art of Jeff Thomson (2013), The Lynley Dodd Story (2015), An Empty Frame: Crimes of Art in New Zealand (2016) and Katherine Mansfield: A Portrait (2018).


WHY DO YOU WRITE?

I write to present new art crime case studies – or new ways of trying to understand and contextualise them. Art crime is a relatively new discipline (though art crimes have been committed as long as there’s been art) so there are opportunities to add to the canon of literature to date. That’s very important to me.

WHERE AND HOW DO YOU WRITE?

Mainly in my study but I always have a notebook at hand to jot down ideas or a word that I’ve been searching for and has escaped me. Some of my best ‘writing thinking’ is done when out walking or running. And I always write my first draft by hand. I don’t want the computer to get in the way initially!

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING AND HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THE BOOK(S)?

I’ve just finished reading Tracey Chevalier’s A Single Thread – I’m now wiser about the art of bell ringing and church embroidery. Historical fiction is good escape and Chevalier’s books are well grounded in facts. Actually I came across this book by accident – I didn’t know she had a new one out. The other week I was in Lilydale, a small town in Victoria, and had run out of reading material. With no independent bookshop I had to resort to going to the Big W (like our Kmart) and was pleasantly surprised to find they had quite a good selection of recent releases.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WRITERS AND WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THEM?

Margaret Forster is an all time favourite. She was a great storyteller; her own life was the basis for many of her works. She also wrote some wonderful biographies and histories. I particularly enjoyed My Life in Houses.

Tim Winton – the rawness of The Shepherd’s Hut has stayed with me for all of 2019 (I read it last Christmas).

Katherine Mansfield – I guess it’s her life story and courage that comes through in her writing that has made her continued and compelling reading for me. Plus, I’ve spent years studying portraits of Mansfield.

WHAT BOOKS ARE ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE?

David Nicholls’ Sweet Sorrow, Ponti by Sharlene Teo, and Melissa Ashley’s The Birdman’s Wife [about the wonderful illustrator Elizabeth Gould who gained little attention compared with her husband John Gould, the author of The Birds of Australia].

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION?

The Light Between Oceans based on M L Stedman’s novel. But I have high hopes for The Goldfinch (unfortunately art crime movies often turn out to be way off reality, for example, The Monuments Men was truly disappointing – very gendered and too much whistling!).

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU RE-READ THE MOST AND WHY?

Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy! Over the past 15 years I’ve worked closely with writer and illustrator Dame Lynley Dodd, including curating three exhibitions of her work.  So, I’ve found myself re-reading one of NZ’s most iconic picture books many times over!

WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY CHARACTER?

Kezia from Katherine Mansfield’s The Doll’s House (and if I’m really honest, Paddington Bear comes a close second).

WHAT BOOK HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN MEANING TO READ BUT STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN AROUND TO?

Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible – it sits on the shelf just waiting……

WHICH THREE WRITERS WOULD YOU HAVE OVER FOR DINNER?

Mary Beard, Tracy Chevalier, and Shaun Bythell.

WHAT WOULD YOU COOK THEM?

I had considered including Jamie Oliver as a dinner guest and then getting him to whip up something but alas he didn’t quite make the cut. So, given my guests are all British I’d have to make a Pavlova I guess (but it would be Nigella’s Christmas one that is really very indulgent with the salted caramel drizzle).

HOW ARE YOUR BOOKS SHELVED AND ORGANISED AT HOME?

Not particularly tidily, but generally by subject: art (by geographic location), art crime, women in captivity, Greek and Roman classics, literary classics (Dickens, Austen, etc), and NZ literature.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LITERARY QUOTE?

“I seen the little lamp,” she said, softly.

[From Katherine Mansfield’s The Doll’s House].

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