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Artist Jane Skeer is so Australian, she paints with Vegemite

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Starting her practice only couple of years ago, Jane Skeer has quickly developed a strong following, producing sculptural works with the help of ‘acquired’ objects.

The Adelaide-based artist’s striking style has earned her a number of awards, including the Hill-Smith Gallery/Helpmann Academy Friends Award.

As well as working as a solo artist, Jane has experience in curating and has been part of a number of group shows.

We sat down with Jane to find out about the South Australian art scene, painting with Vegemite, and how she presents her work online in an increasingly digital world.

We love your artwork. How vibrant is the art scene in Adelaide and how active are you in it?

“Adelaide is an ideal place to live and establish an art career. I am an extremely active emerging artist and I continually surround myself, not only with the local art scene, but with the many visiting contemporary artists who display their work here.

“I currently attend approximately four exhibitions each week and love nothing more than an artist forum on the weekends. As I am constantly researching ways to improve my art practice, I frequently travel interstate to visit exciting new exhibitions.”

You use interesting (somewhat) found objects for a lot of your sculptural work. Where does your visual inspiration come from?

“I am an artist with a passion for creating playful works that are both exciting and interactive for viewers to engage with.

“I work by taking a single object, using a single action and repeating this over and over again to create environments with emotional or affective impact. My practice has a strong ecological theme, and is committed to going beyond the eco-polemic of much contemporary work, around rubbish and detritus, to form visually poetic installations.

“My method is that of an assembler, a collector and a maker. I gather materials from the world quite accidentally as I go about my daily activities. Things that seem to call out to me as I walk by. Working with these objects, I don’t aim to describe or represent what I see in the world, but to activate it in some way. In making, I ‘answer’ the things that I find.”

Tell us about the Vegemite artwork? How was that done and what was the symbolism/messaging behind it?

“I was asked to do a six-hour live drawing performance at the Floating Goose Gallery with eight other artists. That morning I was buttering my toast, wondering what I would draw with. I reached for the Vegemite and as I smeared it on my toast I was reminded of its dark, thick and luscious qualities.

“Instantly excited, I went to a supermarket and purchased two 1-kilogram tubs of Vegemite. A familiar material for breakfast, but unfamiliar to drawing.

“This work evolved by simply applying the Vegemite to the paper as if it were my toast for the entire six hours, creating an impressive sculptural 2D work that engaged with the senses.

“My role as an artist is to respect the material’s qualities, Vegemite in this case, allowing it to take part in the shaping of the work. I want the viewer to be fully aware of the object/material, to recognise it out of its context – hopefully leading to a heightened experience for them.”

What attracted you to Squarespace for your portfolio?

“I was looking for an easily understandable website that I could get my work onto quickly. A couple of past students were using this site and recommended it to me. I needed easy, as I dislike wasting time at a desk when I could be creating work in my studio.”

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Any tips you can give our readers about how to best use Squarespace as a vehicle through which to promote their work?

Squarespace works! If I can learn how to operate it, others certainly can. I hate technology, but I have come to see it as the fast vehicle for communicating and connecting with others.

“Art making is all about connecting, with the material and with the world. As an emerging artist we need to stay in touch with the contemporary art world and to promote ourselves in the best possible way.”

What are you working on currently that we should get excited about seeing?

“Well, on Friday, June 3, I opened my first solo show, Ode to the Fisherman, at the new Floating Goose Gallery on Morphett Street in Adelaide. It’s open until June 26.

“Along with this, I am exhibiting a new work in a group show called Four Walls at the Brunswick Street Gallery in Fitzroy on June 24.

“I am also in the process of working on a commission which is yet to be announced, trying to get a performative public work off the ground for September/October, and looking forward to the showing of my work The Messenger at Kings ARI during the month of November.”

This post is part of an ongoing series presented by our friends at Squarespace, showcasing the portfolios of some of Australia’s brightest creative talents. If Jane Skeer has inspired you to crack open the Vegemite and get painting, or you just want to showcase the creative work you’ve already produced, Squarespace makes for an extremely user friendly, highly customisable solution. Give it a try today and get 10% off by typing EMINOR in at checkout.

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Jane Skeer's work 'Quiet Square'
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About the author

Cormack is a Melbourne based freelance writer and photographer. He loves to travel, drink red wine, and spin records. On the weekends you’ll most likely find him eating pork buns or shaking up cocktails for his friends.