17 Feb Judith Martinez
Judith Martinez (b. 1973) is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer living and working in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Martinez graduated from the UNSW Art and Design with a Bachelor of Design in 1996, and is currently completing a Master of Philosophy in Fine Arts at the same institution.
Judith has an illustrious career as a graphic designer and art director, having worked with the Powerhouse Museum, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority and the luxury jewellery brand Autore, among others. In 2005 she set up her own design and illustration practice in the Blue Mountains. She has been responsible for festivals and events in Sydney and designed graphic installations for The Rocks, National Parks & Wildlife, The Chinese Gardens and Australian Technology Park. Her first picture book, ‘The Empty Jar’, published under the pseudonym Pablo Browne and written alongside writer Craig Billingham, was launched at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival in 2014.
Judith started exhibiting her artwork in 2012 as part of The Blue Mountains Regent Honeyeater Project alongside Michael Mandelc and Michael Herron. Since then, she has had numerous group and solo exhibitions. In early 2018, she attended an artist residency at Alfred University, New York.
Judith’s artistic practice traverses a multitude of mediums, including photographic-montage, analogue print, and mixed-media. Her large photo media works utilise unusual materials such as printing on metal. Her mixed media works alter late 19th and early 20th century cabinet photographs by concealing the faces behind intricate clock and watch parts, stitched directly over the portraits. These explore notions of humanity and memory, both recurring themes in her work.
Photo: Aodi Liang
My work alters fragments from the past to create a present. I try to tap into the unconscious mind and treat the layers of memory and thought as an archaeologist would a dig-site – I displace people from antique images and create new landscapes around them, exploring human identity and the notion of the individual through time and place.
The landscapes are stitched digitally from photographs I have taken in various locations, thus creating altered realities for my subjects to inhabit (exploring the notion of immigration, nostalgia and reinvention – something I am only too aware of as the daughter of immigrants).
As I rework these photographs of strangers, I develop an intimacy with them – they become part of my thought process, and I cannot help but create new narratives.
I feel sadness towards these anonymous figures – who were they and why has the memory of them been discarded? What comment are we making about our own identities as we dispense with such images?
There are different elements to my work – collecting, layering and (manual and digital) construction to create a visual map for people to follow. I experiment with different materials in the production of the large photo media works – the printing techniques I am currently using create an illusion of movement, adding a sense of gentle surrealism to the pieces. Although printed on metal there is a fluidity to the appearance of the work I create. This is achieved in the digital layering process, by playing with perspective and photographic depth of field.
Each piece, whether a photographic-montage or a hand-stitched mixed-media, pays respect to its borrowed subject.
The Last Engineers and The Lady Vanishes are a series of altered late 19th and early 20th Century cabinet photographs. The faces are concealed by intricate clock and watch parts from the former Soviet Union, stitched directly over the portraits. These compositions make it impossible to identify the people in the portraits.
Exploring the notion of humanity and memory working as machines – the pieces challenge the idea of identity.
There is a certain sadness and guilt in the process of creating these works. Stitching the clock and watch parts over the faces and covering their features, makes them unidentifiable, thus erasing them as individuals.