This week our interview is with Jean Draper, her words are rather pertinent given our current situation. Talk of empty spaces, protection , social justice and barriers, a reflection of society at the moment.
Are the ideas/themes for this project ongoing or are they new ?
Working towards ‘Insights’ was no exception to my usual way of working as it was my aim to show honestly how I work, rather than making one piece for the book and the exhibitions. For many years my source of inspiration has been landscape, usually barren and rather harsh areas where ‘the bones’, or structure, of the land is very evident. Whilst my source has remained similar, the work has changed and evolved as I have gradually developed ideas and different ways of seeing. A thematic way of working has huge advantages as it allows for absorption in the subject matter and the development of related ideas from one piece to the next. In the particular landscapes that ‘speak’ to me, with their huge, seemingly empty spaces, there is much to be found – many overlooked features – if one looks closely. In the past details of rock textures, crevices and cracks in rock and earth surfaces have been of great interest. More recently I have been paying attention to elements such as thorns and overlaying, dense, often dried plant forms, which seem to me to signify both protection and obstruction and can, sometimes, be quite menacing. Forms such as these, much simplified in my work, have become a metaphor for other issues of social justice that have concerned me for a long time and continue to prey on my mind. Many peoples’ lives are deeply affected by barriers and restrictions of many kinds which prevent them progressing, attaining and living a decent lifestyle. I had already begun to experiment with work made from layers of hand-stitched meshes, and now continue to develop these ideas, trying further to express my thoughts about barriers to progress and the restraints that many people experience in life.
What is your favourite part of the creative process?
I do not have a favourite part of the process of making. The whole creative process is important to me and occupies both my thoughts and activities each day. My research consists of reading, listening, making notes and drawing. My sketchbooks, a very important part of my work process, are a mix of drawing (both sustained and quick sketches) notes, and lists of ideas. I find it essential to have notes and drawings together to enable me to remember a moment, or to look back and regather momentum with particular ideas. Sampling different methods and with various materials in order to express my ideas, is another vital part of the process before I finally begin to make a finished piece.
I try to keep ‘finished’ work as flexible as possible for as long as I can, cutting, subtracting, adding, evaluating until I am reasonably satisfied. But I am never totally pleased with the results of what may be many hours of work, and see each piece as part of my development, a stepping stone to the next one.