Which tools did you use for the creation of this piece?
Acrylic on A3 photocopy paper.
What was the creative process behind it?
This piece is part of a larger body of text-based work called Word Play, a drawing project that seeks to visualise the process of understanding my own mental health journey through the English language. For these works I would paint or monoprint slightly non-sensical but somehow ‘weighty’ words onto A3 paper. These words were often ‘nothing’ thoughts that just circled around in my brain organically or sometimes they would flow and rhyme – kind of like my mind trying to figure something out, then making fun of itself halfway through.
What feelings come to you when you look at it?
I find the way I read the work changes each time I view it depending on my mood. Sometimes I read get down as if someone is calling an action, and sometimes I look at let down‘ and feel disappointment. But other times I read get down, let down and my mind tries to keep up the rhymes and figure out where the sentence is going: get down, let down, set down, bet down, met down… It makes me feel curious, and I think that’s my favourite part.
“I get to figure out my thoughts as I’m figuring out the artwork.”
What do you like most about this piece and why?
I like the ambiguity of this work. I find vagueness as a concept and aesthetic really interesting. It works as a way of concealing more personal topics I may want to discuss in my art, whilst also allowing the audience to bring in their own experience. The words in this piece have no context or obvious purpose – they are just meandering thoughts put on paper to be read, and the audience can take them how they please.
What were your references, influences or inspirations during your creative process?
My main point of reference for the content in this piece (and it’s connected body of work) is my brain and it’s inner ramblings. As for the form, I think artists like Aleks Danko and David Shrigley had a big influence on me. Both of these artists use text in such nuanced ways that I find really interesting. They each create text-based works that are often quite humorous while only using a few words.
What did you enjoy the most about the process?
The process of making this work and the others in the series was relatively quick and intuitive. If my mind is in the right space I can make a 2-3 works in about ten minutes. I find the process of painting and printing like this quite relaxing and cathartic – I think of some random words, and before I can let them settle I put them onto paper. Once they’re down, that sometimes leads to more thoughts, then more artworks and so on. I get to figure out my thoughts as I’m figuring out the artwork.
“My brain is the powerhouse to my art making, but sometimes it gets a bit too hands on.”
What was the hardest thing for you and how did you solve it?
I think the things I enjoy about the process can also be the hardest things – sometimes I can’t shut my brain off, and I overthink the words and don’t put them to paper. Or, sometimes I do put them down but don’t like how they look or they don’t fit the way I want. My brain is the powerhouse to my art making, but sometimes it gets a bit too hands on. When I get in periods like this, I find it refreshing to pause and move to a process that is slower and requires less thinking. I often go to graphite drawing or embroidery – things that require concentration but not conceptualisation.
Where would you like to see it exhibited?
There’s no specific place I think this work belongs, but it is at it’s strongest when installed as part of a larger body of work. Sometimes the wording reminds me of ‘woke’ vandalism at a train station or public bathroom, that people look at not knowing what it means, but let it just sit in their brain as they go about their day. I would like to see this work exhibited somewhere that people could think. That could be pasted up on a brick wall in an alleyway or in a small quiet gallery.
Jennifer Brady is a Sydney-based emerging artist. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) at the University of New South Wales – Art & Design, and is a co-founder of Sydney-based printmaking collective, More Than Reproduction.