Jedda-Daisy Culley interviewed by Jerico Tracy

Australian artist Jedda-Daisy Culley talks about family, rewriting memories and cultivating intimacy online with gallerist and curator Jerico Tracy.

Date 11 August 2021 Interview Jerico Tracy Photography Andy Stevens, courtesy of Jerico Contemporary

Jeddy-Daisy Culley, And your mother’s psychic spaghetti river. Installation view, artist’s studio, Sydney, June 2021. Image courtesy of Jerico Contemporary. 

Jerico Tracy: In the lead-up to an exhibition we normally see each other everyday. It’s strange putting an exhibition together via WhatsApp, I miss seeing you in person. Are you in the studio today?

Jedda-Daisy Culley: I wish! I’m at home trying to homeschool my kids during Sydney lockdown.

So talk to me about the title of the exhibition, And your mother’s psychic spaghetti river.

The title brings together all the dimensions I’m working with. It tells the story of a great spiritual experience between a mother and child and the recalibration those feelings have to undergo to find a place in more domestic everyday life.

As far as individual titles go, I think she sleeps, with a shining aqua sword and a flip knife in a tiny handbag might be the most evocative one yet. Talk me through how you title your works.

I keep constant pages of words, things I write down that make me feel something, I guess it’s like how some artists keep a visual diary. I collect words and thoughts and build my works around these. When it comes to titling the works, I take from this page and add an element of truth, something that really happened to me. If you go through all my titles, there is a real story inside each of them. The title you have mentioned is all true: after the accident* I started carrying a flip knife and every night before I fell asleep I would visualise myself holding a shining aqua green sword.

*Author note: During the Eastern Australia in NSW in March, Culley and her two children were involved in a rescue boat mission gone wrong, left fending for their lives against the undertow of the Colo River. Despite being aboard a vessel of men in uniform who promised safety to higher ground, help had never felt further away.

Jedda-Daisy Culley, Reflections on the spaceblanket technicoloured warm while she’s still wet, 2021, oil on linen, 720 x 520 mm.

Jedda-Daisy Culley, your feet are off the floor you’re the throat of a waterfall, 2021, oil on linen, 720 x 520 mm. 

The process is new for you too, something that you’ve said started as an experiment. What led you to begin using oils and impression techniques?

I wanted to try and say something without saying it. From that moment, there was no scene or story that I wanted to relive, or retell, mark for mark. But the parts I did have to work with were the aftermath of how I would keep from falling apart. I started messing around in the studio, making a painting and subjecting it to immense pressure, peeling back a whole new surface to work with. I did this over and over until I felt I could rewrite the narrative. The impression that is left behind can be reworked into something beautiful. It was in this process where I found the metaphor of how to keep going.

The linen you painted this series on was repurposed from your father wasn’t it? Why did you choose to use that materiality for this particular body of work?

My dad had this roll of linen for years, it has been kicking around his home in the Colo [River] for ages. I guess it was important to me to use something from the place near the accident and it was nice to use something of his, with all it’s stains and history. It’s a beautiful linen I have been trying to match since. It was important to me not to prime it, and for parts of it to be left exposed.

Jedda-Daisy Culley, she sleeps, with a shining aqua sword and a flip knife in a tiny handbag, 2021, oil on linen, 720 x 520 mm.

Is there anything you want people to take away from this series?

Strangely, no. You’d imagine I’d be up in arms with something big to say but it doesn’t feel right. I hope these paintings bring people joy.

This is the first time we have held a show exclusively online and shot the works in an artists’ studio. I feel like there is something quite interesting presenting an exhibition in this way, almost as if we are inviting the viewer into your sacred space. How do you feel about it?

I guess it feels a bit like we have missed a step, but to me it seems more honest and therefore more intimate. Considering that we are in lockdown and people can’t see the works in the gallery, it feels slightly hocus pocus to put them in there. This way we are not fooling anybody, it is what it is. It seems like an appropriate time to try new things. I mean, life’s weird right now and we’re just rolling with 

Yes, exactly, because of the lockdown I haven’t been able to come to the studio, so in terms of curation, I had very little to do with putting this exhibition together physically—which has been strange for me. But we have been planning ways to incorporate your paint-splattered studio floor into one of your gallery exhibitions for a while, and in presenting the installation as photographs online we managed to pull it off. Especially in hanging the paintings close to the studio floor.

The decision to hang the works close to the floor was about how the exhibition was going to be viewed only online and not in a gallery space. I find the internet a bit spaceless. When it comes to viewing work everything is floating lofty. I wanted to include the studio floor to give a sense of ground and intimacy to the internet and to my artworks.

And lastly Jedda, what’s currently in your studio fridge?

Shiitake mushroom broth, VB, paint, and cheese.

 

Jeddy-Daisy Culley, And your mother’s psychic spaghetti river. Installation view, artist’s studio, Sydney, June 2021. Image courtesy of Jerico Contemporary. 

Jedda-Daisy Culley, yippy I oh yippy I ay butterfly time how to get 1 million puffy jackets she is shaking and won’t speak, 2021, oil on linen, 720 x 520 mm.

Jedda-Daisy Culley, Come on baby let’s ride, slide on into your 4-wheel-drive, let’s ride, 2021, oil on linen, 720 x 520 mm. 

Jeddy-Daisy Culley, And your mother’s psychic spaghetti river. Installation view, artist’s studio, Sydney, June 2021. Image courtesy of Jerico Contemporary. 

Jeddy-Daisy Culley, And your mother’s psychic spaghetti river. Installation view, artist’s studio, Sydney, June 2021. Image courtesy of Jerico Contemporary. 

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