Fascinated by the energy, visual chaos and dark soul of the city, particularly its construction and industrial sites and older buildings, Jody is known for her bold, expressive urban landscapes, exploring themes of impermanence, loss and erasure and “documenting what’s happening before our eyes.” - From Jody Grahams website
When I think of artists who are resolute in practice, Jody Graham comes to mind. I was fortunate to visit Jody in her capacious studio on the outskirts of Sydney CBD. Adorning the walls were large architectural charcoal drawings in progress. Some further along than others; each one revealing the scaffolding underpinning her unique draughtsmanship and familiarity with the medium. The drawings are bold, confident and mysterious... and are characteristic of x-rays, in that the 'bones' of the drawing can be seen through the dark areas of built up charcoal. Jody reveals that her love of old buildings and architecture takes on an anthropomorphic quality. There is a visceral moment of connection when confronted with an old building then learning of its history.
What led you to become an artist?
I have always had a desire/urge to draw, paint and make things. Its how I learn and make discoveries. Sometimes I am embarrassed by the bigness of the title artist. It is a label I use and others give to me to categorise what I do.
How has your practise changed over time?
Drawing has always been central. This is changing, however, to include expanded notions of drawing.
What role does the artist have in society?
I think the artist offers another viewpoint. The artists role is also to be both playful and serious and to find beauty and to encourage empathy.
What has been a seminal experience for you in the art world?
There have been a few! I have been a finalist in the Kedumba acquisitive prize for drawing on a few occasions. Secondly, spending time in Fowlers Gap with a group of artists as well as being in Broken Hill. Getting sober has also been a seminal experience for me.
If you could go back to any era in time as an artist, when would that be and why?
I would like to hop into many eras!
What do you dislike about the art world?
I dislike competition in the art world.
Whats the best piece of advice you've been given?
Even if you don't feel like it - go to the studio and make marks. Sometimes you just make a few marks, sometimes those marks turn into a whole day of work.
Professionally, whats your goal?
To keep striving to make my work better. To head for a maturity in the work.
What art do you most identify with?
Definitely drawings. But I also like makeshift things in everyday life.
Tell me about the subject matter of your artwork and why it resonates with you.
Architecture and structure attracts me a great deal. The history of a building or place resonates with me. Interestingly, the passing of my father saw my direction move to older buildings than I had been previously drawn to.
Jody's passion for her practice is evident in every nook of her studio. There are materials collected from the street such as cigarette butts, discarded plastic, wire, old keys, even an old shoe. Charcoal dust lines exposed plumbing and most surfaces. It is an ideal environment to let the imagination wander and engage with material. Her affable nature and sense of humour is a wonderful counterpoint to the beautifully dark and atmospheric drawings she creates.