This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Jessica Zoob's studio in Lewes for a private viewing of her latest collection. Jessica gathered a wonderful group of creative women to spend the afternoon with her to preview her recent work, painted over two winter seasons in Asia.
Jessica's studio is as wonderful as it was last time I visited. It awakens the senses and is truly a kind of immersive experience, as to be in the space where such amazing paintings are created couldn't fail to be inspiring.
Jessica welcomed us with a short introduction, some of which I want to share with you as these words represent her outlook so much better than my own words could.
I suppose I feel more and more that creativity is a gift and that I have been incredibly blessed to be able to spend my life following my dreams. I think I am at a more thoughtful stage in my life and feeling the need to clarify my position and intentions. I would like to find ways to share my work and to inspire others to keep making good decisions.
I think that we live in troubled times and that now more than ever we need to look toward the light. To celebrate and help each other. To encourage and to keep the faith that there is always sunshine after the rain.
I think the world needs more female energy. To embrace a passion for protection and nurturing rather than power and destruction.
I also believe humans need beauty and hope and that true art can transcend time and distance and that if we look carefully we will find inspiration everywhere.
I think if we find like-minded souls and work together with integrity and passion we can achieve miracles.
If I were asked what do I represent.....
I represent life and hope and beauty. I believe in the power of a clear ambition, precise wishes and baby steps!!
Jessica Zoob, Sept 2019
Many of the paintings in this beautiful collection are much smaller than Jessica's other work, though no less detailed. These small paintings are filled with texture and colour, they catch the light through that texture and the use of iridescent paints. I can imagine they change with the changing daylight and darkness and would give months and years of interest to whoever is lucky enough to own them.
There are some inspired by neon lights dancing in the water at night, and others by the amazing landscapes in daylight. My favourite painting in the studio now though is the painting at the top of this post. It is titled Dance of Life, and I would happily gaze into it for hours.
The vast, seven panel painting that Jessica was previewing last time I visited is still standing against the wall (glimpses of it below). It's size makes it perhaps more difficult to find the right home for.
But Jessica has a dream for this piece too. That perhaps it will one day be bought to hang in a space where it can be appreciated by many, rather than on the walls of a private gallery. That maybe there is a way for it to be bought by a trust or collective then hung where those who may need to escape for a while can stand back and get lost in it.
A dream I can understand. I hope it does find a space where it can be beneficial in some way.
It was also a wonderful opportunity to chat with Jessica about the renovations of her home. When we first met, Jessica had recently bought a property with some land on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. I adore this area and visit fairly regularly as it's only twenty minutes or so from my home, so I was keen to find out more about Jessica's plans for the land and house.
The reintroduction of wildlife is high on Jessica's list for her garden, and great things are already happening. The list of wildlife who visit her garden regularly is already long. Jessica is creating all manner of habitats for them and I could happily have chatted for hours about this. I don't claim to know a lot, but I am keen to rewild my town garden as much as I can. We are cultivating a wildflower area and leave the lawn for weeks between mows as it is an old lawn, filled with several species of wildflower. No weedkillers here. ( I won't chatter more about my garden now, but I was inspired to let it go some more by Plantlife's 'Every Flower Counts' research into wild lawns this summer - you can read a few facts to get you thinking here.)
But my efforts are far behind Jessica's. Her passion for her immediate environment and the wildlife that may potentially inhabit it is infectious. I am excited to see where she takes this project over the coming months and years. And for now, shoe has inspired my next project, which is to create more insect hotels and possibly to build a pond area in my own garden...
During the afternoon, there was a search for THE chair. The one I photographed in 2017, which you can see here. Silly I know, but I love this chair. So thank you to lovely Lola for finding it! I knew it had to be there somewhere.
To say I come away from Jessica's studio feeling inspired is perhaps an understatement. I am now buzzing with the possibilities of new projects.
If you would like to visit and experience the joyfulness of Jessica's work and space for yourself, Jessica is holding an open studio this weekend. If you are close enough to visit (and I thoroughly recommend you do), the details are as follows: -
‘INSPIRED BY ASIA’ OPEN STUDIO
21 & 22 September 2019
Banff Farm, Upper Clayhill, East Sussex, BN8 5RR.
12 – 6pm everyone welcome with no pressure at all to buy and no appointment necessary
A huge thank you to Jessica for her hospitality and generosity, it is truly a joy to spend time with a wonderful group of creative women like this.