Guest Artist Jess Cochrane
Welcome to the rare crossroad where beautiful and scary meet. This issue's guest artist paints the world as she sees it.
Did you always want to be an artist? I’m pretty certain that when I was little, my choice of preferred career paths were artist, florist, cat and hairdresser. Artist seems to have won out. I studied graphic design before deciding on visual art but I get so angry sitting at a desk all day.
What’s the first thing you made that you remember being proud of? I think it was a colourful pencil drawing of my favourite pony I used to ride when I was six. I remember thinking I totally nailed it and I proudly stuck it on the fridge at home.
How and when did you develop your current style? I started developing this style just over a year ago while studying visual art at University of Wollongong. I’ve always been fascinated by how we consider beauty and the female form. When I was a teenager I would go to life drawing classes and draw completely honest forms, then go home and read Vogue. In doing that I always found a huge disconnect between the two yet a love and a place for both. I really enjoy exploring popular culture within my work; the idea of wanting over needing, how fashion plays a role in constructing [what] we buy into through brands, celebrities, music and sexualised culture.
My work for the most part is me taking images and using my brush to interrogate the construct of beauty and the boundaries that it creates for womanhood as well as questioning the culture of women interacting with beauty in a narcissistic and self-deprecating way. It’s a conscious effort on my part to tear down a hegemonic culture of one form of beauty and creating one that leaves space for beauty to be honest and soft and powerful and raw and violent, all whilst being all-inclusive.
What are some things that straddle the beautiful/ugly border for you? Beauty advertising, periods, people, flowers. Little flaws that complete something. A building where the paint is chipping off, people’s crooked smiles, secret freckles, bad tattoos and hidden scars. They’re the most beautiful gross things in the world I think.
Describe your studio space… It’s the small skeleton of a laundry room in an old house, which is now a co-op in town called Sifters. Its walls are white with paint drips on them from the last paintings I had pinned on them. It often smells like fresh flowers because of the florist in the front room, or coffee because of the cafe out the back. It’s cosy and a comfortable space to play in.
What experience broadened your horizons? Facing severe anxiety and depression head on. Learning to accept myself. It’s pretty cool how much that broadens your horizons.
Favourite game as a kid? Dress ups. It still is to be honest.
What are you working on next? I’m working with Groovin the Moo on some really awesome art projects for a few legs of next year’s festival. I’m also doing some fun things with my friends Peking Duk, but I can’t say too much about it yet. I’m also working on a solo show for mid-next year at Brisbane Powerhouse. I’m very excited about it!