Jessie Pittard© "Feast" Woodblock print on Japanese rice paper. (detail)
When I walked into the Nillumbik Artist's Open Studios exhibition in the Barn at Montsalvat, this was the piece that stopped me in my tracks. In a stroke of curatorial genius, it was magnificently framed by the enormous curved wooden supports of the wall, in the alcove. Perfect. Its impact was not lost on my sister who later excitedly drew me over to it. My heart sank. She was considering buying it and so was I. I had to tell her of my intention. She looked utterly shattered. What to do? We were both in love and this was the object of our desire.
I hatched a cunning plan and suggested that we could buy it together and take six month turns to 'own' it. A risky business I admit but this was my sister, so I therefore had every confidence that the plan might work. She immediately agreed and a family crisis was narrowly averted.
Jessie Pittard© "Feast" Woodblock print on Japanese rice paper.
The work is by printmaker Jessie Pittard, the youngest participant in the Nillumbik Artist's Open Studios Program. It's called "Feast" for obvious reasons. But it's not all about abundance and the pleasures of food. There's a darker side to this little piece. A cautionary tale of excess and waste. While the table is piled high with luscious food, the floor is also covered in it...there's certainly more than the two protagonists could possibly eat. Mind you, the rotund feaster on the left is pretty obviously prepared to give it a red hot go! While abundance is good, waste is not.
I enjoy that the faint yellow areas, applied first, also include suggestions of food. I also love the way that the piece has a 3D quality due to the 'cutout' voids.
I wasn't surprised to learn that Jessie is a passionate cook herself and has an abiding interest in food. She's interested in the whole cycle of food preparation: growing vegies and collecting eggs from their chooks, cooking, eating, composting and replanting. She tells me,
"We've always had a large vegie patch and we have chooks. I've been brought up to respect the fact that food comes from out of the ground."
Having two adult children in their early twenties I have enormous affection and respect for young people. All of that energy and optimism is infectious and reminds me that it's worth doing what you're passionate about. As I enjoyed a coffee with Jessie in the courtyard of The Meeting Pool last week, I was reminded of that energy. Jessie thinks outside the square. She is passionate about pushing out the boundaries of printmaking. She studies and works hard. She is a fine artist and has a lifetime of work ahead of her. She's definitely one to watch.
Jessie is the daughter of Chris and Mary-Lou Pittard, both artists who have participated in the Open Studios program for many years. She shares a studio with them at her home in Eltham. It was a natural progression for her to join the Nillumbik Artist's Open Studios Program this year. They are delighted to have her on board.
Studio's are open to the public over the next two weekends. I suggest that you view the artists work at Montsalvat or the Eltham Library first and make an intinerary that includes your favourites. I'm pretty confident that like me, you'll wonder why you haven't known about this years ago!