sense of place

a solo exhibition by Jessica Watts

EXHIBITION DATES: 22nd November to 16th December 2018 

EXHIBITION DATES: 22nd November to 16th December 2018 

We warmly invite you to join us for the opening of Jessica Watts’ solo show on Saturday 24th November 5pm - 7pm 

Guest speaker Ashley McDonald | contemporary art specialist

This is an exhibition of paintings and sculptures exploring “place” and feminine identity. My work investigates gender cliches by turning them into something positive and empowering. The paintings, which I refer to as “Wallflowers”, are directly inspired by my collection of vintage wallpapers.

I revive these charming old wallpapers and give them a new voice. We traditionally think of the wallflower as an awkward girl desperate to be chosen. This series of work started with a question: is a Wallflower one who shrinks into the background to become invisible, or is she emerging from the wall, opening, blossoming, divulging her secrets?

Debutantes, wallflowers, clinging vines, china dolls… these are all outmoded ideas of women. But if you revisit a place with new ideas it transforms into something unfamiliar, something new.

I have always loved wallpaper. My childhood bedroom was covered in Laura Ashley. In our bathroom was a wild metallic Florence Broadhurst. My own wallpaper collection started aimlessly, I started gathering old rolls from the 1940’s stuffing them in a cardboard box in the corner of my studio. For me there is an affection in the re-use and re-purposing of things that have been discarded.

The idea of reappropriation isn’t new but the process of repurposing a stereotype and turning negative ideas into positive parts of our own identity is powerful. The act of claiming an identity can be transformational. Perhaps this is why the Wallflower series has been so well received: it reflects what we see in ourselves.

For this exhibition I am also toying with the idea of “place”. It’s a crucial dimension of human meaning and relationships. Place is simultaneously very personal and collective. I have taken visual cues from a Sydney summer: women are closely cropped and standing in shallow water, adorned with flowers and birds. Old wooden ferries point to nostalgia and longing: we all carry with us footprints of vanished places, places from our past.

I am focused on feminine power, not sexual power: I want to see what happens to feminine identity when you strip away the male gaze. Ultimately my work is about positivity and joy. The paintings are multilayered, brimming with detail and delight. My women are strong, solo, self-possessed and inextricably linked to nature. They are proof that pretty can be powerful.

View the online catalogue.

Gallery Hours: Thursday – Saturday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, Sunday 9:00 am – 12:00 pm or by appointment call 0404 996 739

View our story tab and watch the film, as the artists talk about the sydney road gallery journey so far.