In a world where pre-packaged fantasy and entertainment is so pervasive, the child is often overwhelmed by the pressure to harness imagination to the constructs of popular myth and manufactured fiction. Sadly, rather than imagination being used as a means to explore the universe in a personal context, it loses the freedom to create individual myths for the sake of conformance. It seldom survives uninhibited through to adulthood. Jessica Charlotte however has managed to preserve and nurture the child within, enriching her imagination by integrating a child’s power of visioning and interpretive innocence with the mature artist. Her work is the triumph of the child, of freedom, over the imposition of the ordinary.
Exhibiting early talent, Jessica was encouraged to draw and her childhood was recorded in pencil and paint. The universe was within, timeless, loving yet at the same time threatening, having the power of dream. There were no boundaries and characters from Jane Austin conversed with Alice in her underground ‘wonderland’ and animals dressed in Elizabethan collars and elaborate costumes explained the mysteries of an unknown world. Here is where the sense of a fragile child navigating nightmare emerged, where perhaps the first glimpse of mortality surfaced and prompted exploration into what was durable, something gentle that could weather the disfigurement of time and hurt. All was captured in a net cast by graphite on paper or in the language of colour.
After leaving High School, Jessica briefly studied Furniture Design as a means to find a commercial application for her artistic skills.
However, this career choice was not able to provide expression to the intensely personal and private world that Jessica inhabited. It was then that Jessica enrolled for a course in Illustration and at last she found her ‘natural’ voice.
A period of exploration followed where childhood characters were reanimated and assumed meaning and the storehouse of the self, of ideas, feelings, experiences and imaginative creations were carefully catalogued and worked into something that was uniquely her own. Animals, old portraits, fears, phobias and fantasy play out in remarkable relationships that maintain a consistent theme. Her work captures that brief yet treasured feeling of ‘sabi’, a Japanese word used in conjunction with Haiku that translates as a beauty tinged with sadness.
Jessica Charlotte lives in Melbourne and her paintings are now widely exhibited and are increasingly sought after both in Australia and overseas. Acrylics are her preferred medium. Jessica is represented in New York by our partner gallery, Porter Contemporary.
Jessica’s characters exhibit the wounds of time and hurt yet defiantly assert their transcendence, the power of compassion, sensitivity and gentleness to survive and claim something eternal that exists outside of time. Welcome to the unique world of Jessica Charlotte. Please be kind to the characters she has created for they reside not only in her, but in the empty spaces in all of us where the child once lived that now resonate a sense of absence and longing.
2010 ‘Nearest & Dearest’ Nexus Modern Art
2008 ‘Inhabitants of the Subconscious’ Nexus Modern Art
2016 General Exhibition, 19Karen Contemporary Artspace, Gold Coast
2013 ‘Eclectika’, The Breslin Gallery
2013 ‘Fur’ Prter Contemporary, New York
2011 ‘Aqua Art Miami’ Art Basel week, Miami
2011 ’25th Annual Exhibition’ Downlands College, Toowoomba
2011 ‘A Portrait Apart’, Porter Contemporary, New York
2011 ‘Fit to Print’ – No Vacancy, Melbourne
2011 ‘Homage to Frida’ 19 KAREN Contemporary Artspace, Gold Coast
2010 ‘True Self’ Nexus Modern Art 2010, ‘Lethbridge 10 000 Small Scale Art Award’ Lethbridge Gallery
2010 ‘Mood Swings’ 19 Contemporary Artspace
2007 ‘Three’ Fad Gallery for the Melbourne Fringe Festival
2006 ‘Summer Samples’ Intrude Gallery
2006 ‘Curiouser & Curiouser’ Intrude Gallery for the Melbourne Fringe Festival
2006 ‘Inspiring Talisman Project
2005 ‘Illustre2005’ Chapel Off Chapel
Q&A INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Q. At what age did you begin creating art?
A. I’m lucky to have been born into a creative family so it was encouraged from a very early age. From the day I could put pencil to paper I was drawing anything and everything!
Q. Why do you make art?
A. Art is something I’ve always been drawn to like a magnet. It’s a way for me to express thoughts and emotions, the highs and the lows. I have moments where I take a break from painting but always come back with more passion and drive than before.
Q. Who do you make it for?
A. Primarily for myself. My mind is always on the go and painting allows me to re-create and document some of my thoughts and the creatures that inhabit my mind. You could say it keeps me sane…kind of?
Q. Do you plan out a piece or do you wing it?
A. First comes the idea and then the research begins to flesh out the idea. I am quite particular about my subjects so research can take a while. Then when I establish a sketch I’m happy with the painting begins.
Q. Do you have heroes?
A. If so, who, if not why not? I have so many heroes that there are too many to list! They tend to be all artist or creative types.
Q. How do you decide when a piece of work is finished?
A. It can be difficult as I hate to overwork a piece. I normally put it aside and assess it a few days later. My other option is asking my family who are always very honest.
Q. Do you have your own cure for artists block?
A. Not really. I have bit of an obsession with books so I might have a flip through to see if I can spark an idea but I find the best ideas and painting comes naturally and can come at the most strangest of times.
Q. Do you think having an art education is important in order to be successful?
A. I think it depends on the individual. Some people naturally have the ability to have amazing and successful art careers with no training, and others require some guidance and knowledge that can only be obtained through art education. I personally found my illustration course extremely beneficial as it encouraged me to further develop my style and improve my technique.
Q. What is your favourite memory connected to making art?
A. I have quite a few memories it’s too hard to pick just one. I suppose a special memory for me was when I was home sick from school and my mum was teaching me how to draw. I ended up creating these beautiful dinosaurs with long lashes, quite similar to the long and luscious lashes I use in my paintings today. This for me demonstrates how memories and experiences from my childhood impact on me as an adult and my creativity.