Thursday, 13 May 2010

Introducing Artist Jessica Bell

I’m sitting here in Gastown which is I think the oldest part of Vancouver and definitely one of the most beautiful. The sun is out and there are big looming fluffy grey and white clouds in the sky as well as big blue patches of sky with the sun shining straight through. This burst of light is often a miracle in Vancouver.

I have been visiting with Jessica bell in her studio and have just entered her world of landscape painting and collage, papers, threads, knitting and patience methodical passion and purpose.

I met Jessica Bell at the Old Foundry Building when she was interviewing me as one of the potential artists to join the collective there. Lucky for me I got her old studio space and from there a connection as made and I knew we just had to get together again. Jessica moved to Gastown, her studio in the heart of this old town part of Vancouver that has beautiful old buildings, red bricks and a sense of style and artistry to it in its beautiful raw state. I love being down to visit Gastown.

Describing Jessica’s artwork or her process of making it one must take a step back and picture her methodically walking or riding her pedal bicycle over the Granville Street Bridge, heading north, her journey from her home to her studio that she consciously takes four days week to her studio to do her work. This journey and her observations of the buildings, landscapes, architecture, textures, lights and features of the city is what inspires her work.

Visually gas town is so stimulating it deserves its own photo blog in itself. And so in speaking with her father about the source of inspiration for her work Jess began, giving viewers an insight into the what she sees as she walks to her studio and in and around Vancouver that feeds and nourishes her work = the buildings, the layers, the views, the landscaping, the fragments and pieces that visually make up the city around her. This is the visual gathering she does on her walk and brings these to her studio to create her mixed media pieces.

Jessica started knitting at the age of four and as we talked she knit and spoke about the threads - both metaphorical and literal- throughout her work and her life. Her work is incredibly dynamic…She starts with a fabric, a textures and some colours and lets each piece evolve, layer by layer from there. Using found objects, textured fabrics and papers, pattern paper, thread, knitted works, paper, acrylics paints and GAC mediums.

What pervades in most all her pieces is that sense of space, in thoughtful and careful placement of each element. Space is something she talked about quite a bit in our two hours together at her studio. Time and space required by artists to composed the images, ideas, and concepts until they are ready to bring these new germinated ideas from seed to growth on panel, or on paper as is the case. But the emphasis in the conversation was the importance and the fundamental need for space, time, quiet, walking, looking, being, resting and how this is as important as the making of the art itself.

After listening to Jess talk about the fact that her work is her communication of her observations with the world, her discussion of the city around her, I truly saw her work in a whole different light. Well, in a whole different view – a bird’s eye view per say. I saw trees looking down; I saw buildings and wires, and a pattern of metal from the recycling depot down from the Old Foundry Building where she once worked.

What inspired me utterly was Jessica’s sense of clarity about what she is creating and communicating and her clear sense of artist direction and purpose. Her studio reflected this clarity, tidiness and organization. She was busy getting some paintings ready for the RTF show .

Title is important the title of each of her pieces is important to her and for us the viewer because Jessica’s work can seem so abstract to the initial viewer, giving he title as a hint, and a closer look, you will being to see what she saw and felt as she walked through the city stress and let the pieces of the painting come to her.

Her work is a two-way communication and her wish is that her work is seen. And her dream is that, to have her work in the work – both the original and in print publications, for the world to see and receive her gift through this art.

It was a delight to visits with you Jessica and I am thankful for allowing to be in your sacred studio space for you sharing your time with me and sharing your true self with myself and other artist here. Thank you.

See Jessica's work upcoming at Cheaper Show ( which takes place here in Vancouver in June.