ANEW by Jane Skeer is the first exhibition of 2018 at Gallery 1855 and is drawn from the need to rethink the ready-made.
Made entirely from recycled materials, Jane’s works are standalone visual feasts that allow the viewer to experience colour, texture and pattern in entirely new dimensions.
We chatted to Jane more about her work and what drives her to create art from the objects and materials no one wants anymore.
Why do you hold such a fascination for discarded objects and why did you decide to use them as the basis for your artwork in ANEW?
I see beauty in everything. I believe everything should be given a second chance, including us. I remember watching Disneyland every Sunday evening when I was a child, and the joy I’d feel when the fairy would light up the castle with her magic wand. That feeling has stayed with me as an adult. In a way I believe I’m doing just that today. Rejuvenating stuff and hoping it makes people smile the same way I did back then.
We live in such a throwaway society today. I decided halfway through art school to work with waste, believing I didn’t want to make any more. The joy for me is in the making, searching for new ways to re-present each material I find. I want my audience to be as fascinated with the material as I am. I aim for the viewers to look firstly at the design, but always looming in the background is the fact that we waste too much. I guess it’s educational in a playful way.
What were your intentions with the body of work in ANEW?
My intentions with this work are no different to any other work I have made. I invite the viewer into the gallery to ask questions and to think about the story I’m trying to convey. I enjoy the truckie slings for the life they have led, supporting a heavy load while absorbing a little bit of Australia on their travels. The colours, the stains and the frays describe their livelihood and in a similar way could describe ours. The title Retiring the load indicates its end, hanging up its boots, it’s earnt its rest, it may also imply something of the load we carry roaming on this planet. I’d like to think my work is highlighting, in an abstract way, what it is like to live and be in Australia.
How long have you been a practising artist?
I am an emerging contemporary artist who is heavily involved in South Australia’s arts community. I exhibit work regularly throughout South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Most recently I have been chosen to represent South Australia at BOAA – the Biennale of Australian Art, Ballarat, I am the 2018 SALA – Artist in Residence at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and in April I’ll be working in Mount Gambier activating the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre.
In 2016, I was the recipient of the 2016 Arkaba Hotel Commission and the Adelaide Central School of Art, Fontanelle Residency. In 2017, I worked at the Adelaide Festival Centre as an Artist in Residence for both, the DreamBIG Festival and the SALA Festival, which was proudly supported by the Burnside City Council. The work, Flyers, earnt the 2017 SALA Emerging Artist Award. In June 2017, I participated in a mentorship with the City of Tea Tree Gully – IGNITE public art incubator and have recently installed my first public art work in the main street of Port Pirie.
What has influenced your creative direction? Has there been any significant moments in your life, or major artistic influences?
I remember deciding in Year 11 at Tenison College in Mount Gambier that I was never going to make it in art. I handed up my end-of-year painting next to a boy who in my eyes, was the real deal. That was it – my art career was over before it had even begun. I didn’t look back until my kids grew up and didn’t need me anymore.
I decided to join art school at the age of 46 to do the odd painting class. I enrolled very casually but was soon hooked after reading an article on Rosalie Gascoigne and how she started her art career in her fifties. She gave me belief in myself, something I had lacked for most of my life.
The Adelaide Central School of Art is the most amazing place to study art. Their teaching staff and office staff are all my heroes and they would have to be high on my list of major influences. Without their guidance, nurturing and tough critique, I wouldn’t have made it this far.
What are you working on next and what are you looking forward to?
I am extremely excited to be opening a studio and gallery space Collective Haunt Incorporated in Norwood which will house 19 fellow artists. I am planning to work a lot more community-minded in the future, as I really want to give back. My calendar for 2018 is very heavily booked. which is absolutely scary but very exciting at the same time. I think I work better under pressure.
Jane also ran a workshop from 14-15 March, where participants used an assortment of old road signs and other discard materials to design and produce a large-scale artwork on the fence adjacent to Gallery 1855.
Here are some stunning shots of the finished artwork ‘Sign of the Times’, and also some behind-the-scenes shots:
ANEW opened Sunday 25 February at Gallery 1855 and is on display from Wednesday 28 February until Thursday 29 March.