Jessie Deane working-30
I’m Jessie Deane and I am an artist working with thread. I live in Yarraville, a suburb in the west of Melbourne, Victoria with my partner, celebrant Ellen Spalding.

I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Woven Textiles in 1986 and promptly put down my loom to embark on a career in the Arts. Having worked my way through community arts, outdoor pursuits, workshop artist, scenic artist, production management, events, project and arts management with some time in between for my own practice, I am realising my ambition to work solely as an artist.

Contrast, colour and texture are key inspirations for me, and these, combined with the process of intricate and monotonous work, are ideas that drive my creativity. My work combines painting and textiles and I have always found solace simply in the act of making things. My craft is tactile and akin to building. I enjoy the sensual nature of creating cloth and images on cloth and I find the discourse surrounding questions of ‘craft versus art’ compelling.

I am also interested in subverting a medium that is traditionally considered quaint and pretty, to portray images which actually contrast to the domestic; industrial landscape for example. It is thrilling to mess with these opposing elements, which might conventionally be perceived in the realm of the “feminine” or “masculine”, creating something entirely original.

Paradox is important in my work. I’m drawn to oppositional forces and attracted to counterpoint. I find examples of contradiction wherever I look in the western suburbs. I love living in the west but hate breathing the air. I love the urban landscape and the shapes and colours, but hate the hum of traffic. I love the view from the bridge but always remember the tragedy that has befallen it. I love the excitement of a refinery evacuation alarm but feel terrified that one day it might not be a practise drill. I love the ships but hate the trucks. I love the piles of containers on ships and on land. I’m fascinated that wherever you go in the western suburbs, the Newport Power Station’s three red stripes can always be seen.

Textile work and craft is historically a place where women come together. There is talk, gossip, and connection. I find joy in the conversations I have with craft’s people, some of whom ponder over my appearance and take a while to warm to me. Yet the minute we connect about the craft and its practice, I am embraced. I’m fascinated by these relationships and they inspire my practice.

I am threading ideas together, threading the west and threading those relationships, which sit at the centre of my practice.


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