Jody Graham

Salvage - 2017 Exhibition 

26 August - 18 September 2017

Exhibition Opening: Saturday 26, August 3 - 5pm

View Jody Graham's 2017 Exhibition 

 


FOREWORD

Jody Graham is a dedicated and talented artist who has great skills, particularly in drawing. Her work here is haunting and has captured her subject with feeling and integrity. The work borders on abstraction but nevertheless is evocative and often resolved on further review.

Jody’s commitment to her art is admirable and I respect her ability to challenge her own style and at times think outside the square. She is not tied down to any particular genre and will experiment with other ideas. Jody is an artist who is passionate and I believe she will become one of Australia’s leading artists.

Jeffrey Plummer
Director: Kedumba Drawing Award & Kedumba Collection of Australian Drawings
February 2015

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Jody Graham is a Sydney-based artist whose work encompasses drawing, mixed media, sculpture and installation. Fascinated by the energy, visual chaos and dark soul of the city, particularly its construction sites, industrial foreshore and older buildings, Jody is known for her bold, expressive urban landscapes, exploring themes of impermanence, loss and erasure and “documenting what’s happening before our eyes.”

At the core of Jody’s practice is drawing. She enjoys the directness of plein air sketching on site as the basis for larger works back in the studio and candid pen studies in her sketchbooks of people in public places. “Drawing encourages me to keep looking, searching, and to really see things.”

Born in 1968, Jody grew up in Baulkham Hills on the suburban fringe of Sydney. She explains her later preoccupation with building sites, heavy machinery and skylines of cranes from her father, Peter Graham, who managed a family engineering firm and had a gift for designing machines.

“I would go into the factory with him, onto the draughtsman’s floor with the big desks. He would let me colour in the draughtsman’s plans. And there’d be piles of scrap metal and a galvanising pit. At five or six, it was just magical. I’m pretty sure that had an impact.”

Jody recalls high school art excursions to galleries in Sydney where she was excited by the New York Expressionists and Australian artists of the 1980s, notably Mike Parr and Kevin Connor. A high-achieving athlete, she was invited to study at the Canberra Institute of Sport. ”I came to a crossroad…my heart was with making art.” Jody still runs every day. She is a highly physical artist with an energetic approach to drawing, whether it be the demands of plein air sketching or her often fast-paced, vigorous style of attack in the studio, often to a soundtrack of loud rock music.

Graduating with distinctions from Billy Blue in 1991, she gave up her graphic arts career in advertising when she became a full-time mother. In 1995 she moved to the Blue Mountains and began painting again, mostly landscapes, and studying with Vicky Hersey, Kerry Johns and John Philippides.

In 2003, she was invited to submit to the Kedumba Drawing Award. Her figurative work 'Interior 1 Polarize' (charcoal and pastel on paper) was selected by Trustee John Olsen for the Kedumba Collection. Jeffrey Plummer, Kedumba Director, still ranks it “in the top dozen works in the collection.” This recognition proved an important turning point in Jody’s practice.

In 2004 'Pauline' (charcoal and pastel) became a finalist in the Dobell Drawing Prize and in 2008 judge Jenny Sages chose the industrial landscape 'Garden Island' (ink and pastel) for the Kedumba Drawing Award, making Jody one of the few artists to have two works acquired for the collection.

While Jody continued to live in the Blue Mountains, industrial and construction sites became her chief subject matter with frequent field trips to her favourite locations. In 2011, ink and pastel landscapes of the cranes of Cockatoo Island, smokestacks of Port Kembla, poppet heads of Broken Hill and rising apartment blocks in Rhodes were the focus of a solo exhibition 'Industrial Landscapes' at Braemar Gallery in Springwood and works in a group exhibition '3+1' at Lost Bear Gallery in Leura.

In 2012, Jody relocated to the inner Sydney suburb of Newtown to immerse herself more fully in the life and atmosphere of the city. “I go into the city very early in the morning and draw. Then I come back to the studio and produce the work in that fresh state. That’s the gold of what I do.”

The death of her father that year after a long illness saw her work engage deeply with themes of impermanence and mortality. She became attracted to Sydney’s older buildings, either doomed or isolated by the city’s frenzied development, and felt driven to “immortalize these relics from the past.” Her Green Ban series of images from The Rocks pays tribute to the industrial actions that saved that area from demolition. Her research into the secret, often dark, history of iconic Sydney buildings includes the early colonial cemetery beneath Sydney Town Hall, explored in textured images with background layers of hand-writing, fusing the historic and personal.

A trip to South Africa in June 2012 revealed new horizons artistically. Jody joined a group of women artists on safari and then arranged her own explorative visit to a South African township. Her eloquent animal studies for the African Safari group exhibition at Depot Gallery Danks Street in 2013 opened up another area of creative inquiry as well as winning drawing prizes at Blackheath (2013) and Waverley (2014). The township experience inspired the installation 'Someone else's life – Mobility' (wheelchair, found objects, domestic items) which evolved from earlier experiments with installation and found objects, and went on to win the Blacktown City Art Prize (2013) for sculpture.

Works from the intensely productive last two years have also been selected as finalists in the Hawkesbury Art Prize (2012), Adelaide Perry Prize for Drawing (2013), the NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize (2013), and the Lethbridge 10000 Small Scale Art Award (2014). Her second solo exhibition at Lost Bear Gallery in 2013, 'Urban Landscapes', featured streetscapes of Newtown, Surry Hills, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and Central – with a particular fascination for the prow-like wedge of Sydney Dental Hospital - as well as the Blue Mountains towns of Katoomba and Blackheath. Her work for this exhibition and group shows at May Street Gallery and Studios in St Peters in 2014 demonstrated the diversity of her stylistic approach.

Jody continues to explore new directions. In April 2014 she was invited, alongside established artists from Janet Clayton and Olsen Irwin galleries, to be part of the Red Cross’ 'Embers of Empathy' project, fundraising for Blue Mountains bushfire victims. Jody experimented with rubbing the charcoal of burnt trees directly onto paper in situ for her striking 'After The Fires' series. She pushed the boundaries again with her winning entry for 'Draw on The Mountain' (2014): a sketchbook digitally recorded, then burned to an ember and conserved in wrappings.

In her judge’s remarks for the Blackheath Open Art Prize, artist Jo Ernsten identified Jody’s “supreme understanding and confidence in the quality of the gestural mark.. the simplicity, humour and humanity [of the work] kept commanding me to come back for another look.”

Kedumba Director Jeffrey Plummer continues to take an interest in Jody’s development. He likens her intense visual sensibility to that of Kevin Connor and describes her “concise, deft touch with ink and now with charcoal that is evocative [and] resonates between head and heart.”

Last year Jody moved into a bigger studio space in St Peters so she could work on a new scale. Her most recent urban works in monochrome have become larger and more abstract, with dramatic explorations of blackness through charcoal and pastel, as exemplified by ‘Sentinel’, winner of the Blacktown City Art Prize (Works on Paper) 2014. Jody’s solo exhibition ‘Sydney Drawn’ at the Lost Bear Gallery in Katoomba in March 2015 focuses on this latest starker vision of Sydney’s streets and buildings.

Julian Leatherdale
February 2015

 

View Available Works

View Available Booklet

 

Prior Exhibitions at Lost Bear Gallery

View 'Sydney Drawn' 2015 Exhibition

View 2013 Exhibition


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