A day trip to Margate on a bright autumn afternoon had its own appeal. A walk by the sea, a visit to the Turner Contemporary and even an unexpected sighting of a grounded cargo ship narrowly missing an Anthony Gormley iron man!
But a studio visit to artist, Jemima Brown in neighbouring Broadstairs was surely the cream topping to the whole day! Jemima is well-known to The Collective with our acquisition of both photographic works and her ever provocative sculptures which have surprised friends and tradespeople alike who happened to be visiting our homes.
A multi-disciplinary and award winning artist, Jemima produces works with different cultural and (increasingly) political narratives, often focussing on women’s own exploration of self-identity expressed through different lifestyles. From her own self-image, Dolly, London hipsters, political wives or Greenham Common protesters Jemima explores the various identities via different mediums. The Collective is home to two of her large (nearly life-size) sculptures, Headless Woman and Beigelbird, constructed via a complex series of processes from 3D imaging and processing to casting, modelling and adding discarded clothing. Assuming a life of their own the “sculptural assemblages” are quite distinct in character and evoke quite different emotions, some of which I have described in a previous blog
The Collective own just one of the sculptures. The second is on loan to us as we make a decision which one to keep. Unusually it has split the Collective down the middle. We have discussed at length the merits of both, or either, and voted on the one to keep, not once, but twice. But no resolution has so far been reached. We hoped to draw inspiration from our visit to see Jemima and find out if she could help us reach a conclusion. Instead our eyes and minds were swept away by some of Jemima’s newer works
Moving out to Broadstairs has changed the balance in Jemima’s working life. Frustrated by the sometimes dysfunctional nature of life in London (and much less studio time than she needed) moving out and creating a studio in her own home has allowed her to enter a more reflective period, where she has a real chance to develop different directions and ideas.
“It’s much more productive” says Jemima “but there are compromises to be made”
Having a studio at home and balancing family life her environment is much more “domestic” all round – ” but you have to see it as an asset rather than a liability”.
She continues to weave in found objects to her figurative explorations (this time more domestic in nature).
The biggest conundrum for Jemima is the lack of gallery representation, having proactively walked away twice from such relationships .
“Now, what I gain in extra time and reflection for my work I lose in opportunity provided by gallery representation. Institutions are not interested in invisible artists” .
But Jemima continues to keep her links in London, working there twice a week and so keeping pace with what’s happening. Jemima is currently showing in Collateral Drawing 5 in Folkestone with her intriguing wallpaper designs where she used her “doll” sculptures as models for the drawings in her designs.
The increased impact of politics is evident in some of the newer works we saw in her studio. Never missing an opportunity to comment on the people who live in her broader community she invites a more local and involved view around some key events.
There is something unexpected and yet entirely natural about Jemima’s work and the more you look, the more you see and ruminate on the questions being asked by those cultural and political contexts she creates for the viewer. It’s all in the detail.
Are we any closer to making a choice between Beigelbird and Headless Woman?