“The wind is sliding across my skin and the sun is behind a storm cloud. The air smells electric. I see the rain coming down towards me, hissing along the foreshore. I should get undercover but I don’t. I melt into the weather, unusually one with the rain and waves. All tension just slides, I feel like I could stay here forever, sluiced clean and clear. A dream-like state but I feel so alive, it sounds like a contradiction but it’s not. It is perfect, even the shivers bring pleasure.” (26 Aug 2004, my visual diary.)
Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I am a photographer and a sculptor, sometime ago I managed to combine the two by cutting and folding my photographs. I was originally inspired by a technique called origamic architecture which involves cutting and folding but no paper is removed or added and there is no glue. This suits a photograph perfectly as the integrity of the photograph is maintained. Theoretically the photograph could be flattened back down to what it once was, of course paper has a memory so that can not happen. Recently I have been moving away from paper and into sculpting with metal and other mediums as I have started to move into the field of public art.
Who (or what) inspires you to do what you love in your own creative business?
My mother once told me when I was a child that a person spends 80% of their waking life working so I had better come up with something I enjoy. I do love the satisfaction in what I do, there is much hard work and sacrifices but I get a sense of achievement at the end which provides meaning and stimulation to my working life.
I once read about Rene Magritte who said he was inspired by both the awe and terror of being alive. There are moments is our lives where we suddenly feel this, more alive, more real. Sometimes this strikes us randomly, other times after a dramatic event, a near fatal miss perhaps. Things stand out abnormally clear and sharp, our senses of touch and smell are hyperactive. It is a fleeting sensation but feels timeless when you are in it. This moment is what inspires my practice, I seek it in my photographs and then try to make them more real by overlaying the folded pattern onto them, an extended mediation on that frozen moment. It is a very hard thing to capture in an artwork but when I manage to convey an echo of it I am very pleased with myself!
Tell us about your very first job and what path have you taken since then?
I knew studied for close to a decade, first I studied photography, then sculpture at Claremont School of Art and finally I made my way to Curtin Uni. My supporting jobs for this period were rather varied, any way to make a dollar! They included being a cleaner, singing telegrams (I was a gorilla!), being a carer and hosting children’s parties as a fairy, among many other things. I was a trainee at Fremantle Art Centre in 1998 which had a major impact, the almost all female staff taught me to use a drill and a level! This was when I moved from photography into art.
Art Melbourne 2010
Describe a typical day in your studio space?
There is no typical day! All depends on what deadlines are looming and what business needs to be done first. My practice is very varied involving photo shoots, designing templates, cutting/folding and new material explorations. The business side takes up as much time as the creative side unfortunately.
As a Artist what is your biggest frustration?
Tell us about how you prioritise your studio work.
Jennie Nayton Copyright
Since you are working at home, can you please tell us about how do you connect with other artists, and your customers (i.e. how do you network)?
I work so hard juggling my life as a mum, managing my household and keeping my art practice growing that I don’t connect as much as I should. I would like to go to more openings as I think networking is quite important. I have been going to Art fairs for the past few years which has been great for meeting other artists and clients. For inspiration I go onto Flickr, the worlds leading paper technicians are on there and quite happy to chat and share tips. I also am a member of Artsource who email me invitations, jobs, arts news. Also I have an ezine I send out every few months which has been fantastic form of reminding people about who I am and what I am doing. An unexpected but great perk is that many artists on it email me back to tell me what they are up too!
What advice can you offer other creative people who are just starting out and following their passions?
Tenacity with a splash of obsession are important ingredients. Also I personally need a deadline to work against so I motivate myself by always having things lined up to work on. In the early days this meant entering all the local art awards and anything else I could find. I am a bit more selective now.
Jennie Nayton Copyright
What dreams do you still want to achieve or fulfil in your life?
I would like to have the funds one day to go to Antarctica to photograph the ice. That would be amazing! I would also like to travel to other extreme landscapes (like Death Valley in Texas) and explore their shapes and patterns with my camera.
What is your proudest moment so far?
There are three great moments which have stood out in my art career. The first was when I sold a work to Parliament House Collection in Canberra, and more recently I have won two public artwork commissions which I am currently working on. The first will be on Newcastle St in Perth and the second which is in collaboration with well known public artist Stuart Green will be on Adelaide Terrace in Perth. All these moments made me jump around and do a vigorous victory dance!
Who do you most want to meet and why?
Too many people spring to mind, mostly I want to raid their brains for tips and inspiration! Rene Magritte, Marion Borgelt, Robert Irwin, Roni Horn and Tracey Moffat are some of the artists I admire.
Jennie Nayton Copyright
What is the most important lesson in life that you have learned?
What book are you reading right now, and do you have a book you would like to recommend?
Foldforming by Charles Lewton-Brain – a very exciting book I ordered online on folding metal.