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Birds.  I love everything about them.  Their feathers, their flight, their song and their nests.  Here’s an artist whose work might just appeal to you as much as it does me.  

Jessie Imam is the current Artist in Residence at Nillumbik Shire’s Birrarung House at Laughing Waters.  She’s been making nests out of feathers, lace and human hair.  As we set the nests up for these photos, we both handled them with the care and reverence usually afforded a piece of rare antique porcelain. 

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Return to the Nest (detail), 2011. Human hair

Jessie is two years out from a degree in fine arts at Monash Uni in Photomedia. She began her art life exploring photography. Hunting down props for her photo shoots developed an interest in taxidermy. Animals available were usually prepared as trophies for hunters and shooters so didn’t display the mystical serene poses that Jessie was looking for. What to do? Jessie approached the issue by learning taxidermy and creating her own. I have to admit that the thought of it was a bit gruesome for me…but Jessie assured me that once you know how to do it, it’s not gruesome at all. She’s usually concentrating so hard on the technique, that she’s not a bit squeamish about it. She manages to represent the animal in a very gentle, sensitive way. Who could look at this dear little bird below and not feel great pathos and admiration for it. Dear little mite.

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Return to the Nest (detail), 2011.   Human hair and taxidermy bird.

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Return to the Nest (detail), 2011.  Human hair and taxidermy bird.

Jessie is quick to tell me that she only ever uses animals from road kill or that she finds already dead in the bush. Like this rabbit, affectionately called Gerrard, who’s destined for a night time photo shoot in the bush around Laughing Waters. In reviewing this photo I couldn’t help expecting Gerrard to twitch his nose at any minute.

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“Jessie’s most recent works centre around themes of transitions and traces. She takes a mythological approach and uses elements in her pieces to spark conversations surrounding truth and reality, and a tension between memory, vitality and death. Although from a photographic background, Jessie’s practice also includes sculpture, installation, painting and the moving image.” (Courtesy of the artist.)

The photograms below are just the beginning of Jessie’s exploration of the environment at Laughing Waters.  

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Jessie is conducting a workshop at Birrarung House in July…

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 (Courtesy of the artist)

Who Are You? Non-Traditional Self-Portraiture

Sculpture, installation and alternative photographic techniques

Three-day workshop with Jessie Imam

9, 16 and 23 July 2011, 10.00am to 1.00pm

At historic Birrarung House,

195 Laughing Waters Road, Eltham

This workshop series will explore the indexical reference in self-portraiture, using natural found materials, clay sculpture and alternative photographic methods such as pinhole photography, contact printing and photograms.  The workshop program will culminate in the creation of an installation comprising all pieces created during the workshop series, and an open house to celebrate the works. For beginners to intermediate.

Cost including materials:

$150.00 Full
$135.00 Concession

 

This special workshop series and open house is presented by Nillumbik Shire Council’s Arts & Cultural Services, together with Parks Victoria.

Please telephone Michelle Zemancheff, Cultural Development Officer, Nillumbik Shire Council on 9433 3126 for enquiries and bookings.

Check out Jessie’s website for more info about her work to date.

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For information about this residency see the Nillumbik Shire website.