Alison Jardine is a very busy and talented English artist who now resides in Texas. Alison is currently working on numerous projects including filming artist interviews (she is the interviewer not the interviewed!. We’re very intrigued by the artwork that Alison creates not only her paintings but her captivating video installations! We hope you enjoy her work as much as we do!
In regards to your video installation there is a clear separation of parts, the first half is natural showing a simplistic but beautiful view of nature yet the second half of the video is haunting with the writing on the flowing landscape. What was your objective?
The video installation arose from ideas and filming I did while on a Residency at an art retreat in Georgia. The studio I was given is in the middle of a forest at the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and I was able to spend my time considering this as a nature reserve as well as its context, set within the modern world that doesn’t value it. The film I created tells a story fundamentally, of my weeks on the Residency. It formed the core thread of my experience there.
I had stretched a long roll of rice paper between the trees, and each day I filmed it, capturing the shadows and light as well as the way in which nature began to interact with it. My intention was not just the film, but also to use this as a way to access my ideas about shadow and light, which permeates all my work. I really enjoy making my films, although I am not really intending to be a video artist. For me, the added benefit of making them, other than as an art piece, is that these films are like a sketchbook for me, and they provide a creative wellspring for my paintings and drawings.
Stringing together my ideas into a film for me is like writing a visual novel. I really strive to communicate my experiences to the viewer, to put them into my mind’s eye. The ‘hand’, the artist, represents the human thought and consciousness that is affecting the rest of nature so much, and the final scene shows the forest from the outside looking in. Will the forest be gone soon, in black and white and obsolete like the silent movies are?
Self taught or art school?
I spent two years at art school, and also have a BA hons during which I studied the philosophy of art. This influenced my work even more in that my approach to my work is highly conceptual, and I strive to simplify complex ideas and capture the essence of them in my work. Art to me is also highly personal, and individual if you like. For me the compulsion to create art is closely linked to the desire to be understood by an ‘other’, and to communicate my own poetic visions.
If you could own one work of art what would it be?
As if I could pick only one!
How would you describe your style?
I am in that liminal place between abstraction and realism. Most of my work is rooted in light filtered through nature – mainly forests – in which I locate reductionist patterns that I compose in a way that almost imposes a structure. Most of my work is about the balance between chaos and order, as seen through the human senses and that our consciousness makes into our internal narrative of our lives. I find this hinterland an exciting and terrifying place in equal measure, which I think is pretty much the human experience. The role of art, I think, is in trying to take this subjective continuum and turn it into an objective ‘item’ that can be communicated.
I frequently use technology as a filter. The technology may not always be evident in the work except as a kind of resemblance, but it is part of my process; for example in my most recent series I mix camera and pigment in a process that leads to an entropic loss of data, while answering some questions I have an artist about the inherent differences between the two media. I think most of all I am a curious artist. I like to look for answers to questions I have.
What are your favourite places to view art?
I do enjoy a well designed museum, and an afternoon when everyone else is not there. I can stay for hours, and most of my friends and family don’t want to, so it’s best if I am alone!
But the best place of all to view art is in the studio of the artist who is creating it, after a long conversation. Each artwork is one tiny piece of a whole that is the artist’s life.
Who are your favourite artists and why?
I have liked many many artists over the years. This question is always hard because I take away something from every good artpiece I see, no matter the style or medium. Art either works or it doesn’t, regardless of ‘taste’. I tend to like artists who inspire me to continue to be individual, such as Yayoi Kusam, Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse. Especially with the latter two, these artists have a sort of tender and intensely elegant expression that speaks to me on a deep level. The art that formed my visual environment as a child, and therefore I inevitably find their influences in my work are British artists, as I am British, such as David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Gwen Johns, Turner, and Lowry. As my interest in art deepened, I looked to the work of the early and mid-20th Century artists such as Mondrian, Klimt, Rothko. For contemporary art this is an impossible question as the art world seems to have exploded and there’s too much to remember! Olafur Eliasson remains among my favorites, as well as the films and charcoals of William Kentridge and the sculptures of Anthony Goldsworthy. I also like Naoko Ito’s and Cornelia Parker’s sculptures.
Where’s your studio and what’s it like?
My studio is in Deep Ellum, a less salubrious and vibrant part of Downtown Dallas. It’s in an old factory (about 150 years old) called the Continental Gin Building, and is a fabulously rickety brick, metal and concrete old three-story building. The original heavy goods lift clanks its way up and down the center, and the factory is now divided into about forty individual studios with all manner of art-focussed people at work in it. It’s a great place to be, as Deep Ellum is full of artsy people. I find working in an older building grounds me, amidst all the concrete and brash newness that comprises the rest of Dallas and its suburbs.
Do you have any studio rituals?
I do, although I am by nature an energetic and unpredictable person who loathes routine. I always spend time quietly putting things away, and making things orderly before I start each day, and in this time I let my everyday persona slip away so that I can enter that special place where creation begins. I listen to music such as Debussy when I need help letting go.
What are you working on currently?
I have some commissions to work on, I am writing and filming some artist interviews (I am the interviewer, not interviewee!); I am working on launching this new Residency I founded last year at the Dallas Arboretum, and I am working on my new series of paintings.
Where can we buy your art?
You can visit alisonjardine.com to get started!
What are your ambitions?
To fully express and communicate my vision and through this to gain greater understanding. A bit philosophical perhaps, but that’s just the way I am.