Step into Paradise – exploring the world of Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson

Room after room after room … the glorious colour, vibrant patterns, and range of textiles that form the Step into Paradise exhibition offer a small glimpse into the design world of Flamingo Pink’s Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. Spanning more than three decades, this was the setting for the final ETA Writing Teachers meeting.

The first room, ‘Before’, showcased their inspiration from a heady 60s London and I was struck by the wildness contained within an image of Vern Lambert at the Chelsea Antique Market, 1970. Jenny worked here, selling a mix of haute couture, homemade and ethnic dress.

For me, Chelsea market was the school of fashion and life … we didn’t just flog frocks and style ourselves, we styled everyone who came in, from Mick Jagger to Marianne Faithfull. It was like directing wardrobe on a movie set called The Sixties.

A Big Life, Jenny Kee and Samantha Trenoweth, 2006


digitised image (photographer unknown) Herald and Weekly Times

Several small openings in the black walls functioned as peepholes into their past. I stood transfixed as colour overlaid the image, billowing across Vern’s portrait, jotting down words and ideas.

After our exploration, we discussed our impressions then settled into the pomodoro writing technique. After several attempts, focussing on the photos I’d snapped, I settled on this edited ekphrastic draft:

The Shoes, The Shoes

a checkerboard bright harlequin heel

steps out from swirling blues and rises above canary yellow crochet

red creeps up the legs, over the hips and bleeds across a protected chest

smiling as teal drips down trees and purple whorls shift inward

a melding of navy beneath an orange sky burst

shaping darkness through the background

a sleeve standing out now – pointing to the plain brocade

itself a grey riot of rich embroidery embellishing satin

the heaviness an anchor of this altered moment

sepia slowly draining energy and focus fading now

muted crimson drifting

the shoes resume their prominence

his smile departs

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