Jess Dare’s work sits in that eloquent space between complexity and simplicity. Her colour palettes are clear and bright, her shapes are deceptively simple, and her compositions have an easy sense of balance.
But it is the subtle touches of visual texture that make each piece so intriguing. Strange little flowers blossom and leaves sprout between bigger, more ‘sensible’ shapes. Surfaces twist softly and tiny berries adorn larger buds. Look closer, and you will be rewarded.
She is always inspired by colour and nature, and often by memory. Recollections of childhood exist in a space filled with warm skies and sunshine: “playing in the garden, picking flowers, watching the fuzzy caterpillars, picking the nuts out of pine cones, dodging the green berries being thrown by my older brother. Making mud pies, sandwiched between huge, lime green, vine leaves. Stringing daisies together to make chains, to hang around my neck and dangling two cherries over my ears to make earrings.”
While completing her Bachelor of Visual Arts at the Adelaide Centre for the Arts, TAFEsa, Jess took a one year intermission in 2004 to live in London and travel around Europe. While in Italy, she discovered traditional glass lampworking in Murano. She was smitten by its rich colours, its malleability when molten, its fragility and durability when cold, and has been incorporating it in her work since 2005.
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor” was a brooch created for an exhibition by 100 Australian contemporary jewellers; each jeweller was paired to an inspirational Australian woman with the purpose of creating a brooch representative of that person and her achievements. Jess made this piece for Marion Hall Best (1905-1988), an interior designer best known for her vibrant use of colour and bold surfaces.
Jess’s most recent group of works is for her first solo exhibition, The Nature of Memory, and comprises a collection of jewellery, glass objects and photographs based on themes of fragility and memory. The exhibition won the Best Visual Art award for the 2013 Fringe Festival, and has also attracted several high profile acquisitions.
On completion of her degree in 2006, Jess took up a residency at the renowned Gray Street Workshop in 2007, and in 2010, she became a partner of the Workshop. She joins Catherine Truman and Sue Lorraine in continuing its legacy and shaping its future.
You can find more of Jess’s work on her website, jessdare.com.