Delve into the intricacy of the mundane, the psychologies of the subconcious, and the joy of fast and slow artmaking with Bow Arts Camden studios artist and filmmaker Jennifer Louise Martin.
Jennifer Louise Martin (b.1980) is a multimedia artist living and working in London. She uses her studies in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Fine Arts to explore perception, reality, and psychological undertones in everyday moments.
Jennifer works mostly with painting and paper, but dabbles in many different disciplines; her short film, ‘Hear My Cry’ explores her expression of emotion and the female psyche for the first time on film. ‘Hear My Cry’ was nominated for six awards, and was named Best Short Film at Aesthetica Film Festival, New York Movie Award, and Florence Film Festival. Her work even appears in a music video, featuring Peter Xan wearing customized MC Overalls.
During the pandemic, Jennifer also set about painting elderly people living in isolation. Understanding the loneliness many were feeling during lockdowns, she reached out to her community asking for images of elderly people they may know in isolation. The finished pieces were sent back to each model as a surprise in the post, resulting in several new friendships.
Bow Arts is pleased to welcome Jennifer to our new studio site in Camden, where she is planning to continue her work and launch her second film project. Hear more about Jennifer’s journey below.
Please introduce yourself, tell us where you are from, and a bit about your artistic practice.
I was born and live in London. I graduated with honours in Psychology and Neuroscience at Leeds University in 2003 and also studied at Central St. Martins completing a Foundation course and Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art. I am a qualified secondary school art teacher and run my own business teaching children’s art workshops.
I am interested in how mental states alter our engagement with reality, the way that psychological shifts can imbue seemingly banal everyday objects or even surface patterns with a kind of confused aura to hint at a melancholic undertow. My work is predominantly painting, including having made a film and performance. Multiple ways of working allow me to explore the tension between immediacy and more procedural forms of making.
This clash of the mass produced, the hand-made, the commercial image and the privacy of one’s inner visual world is central to the work. With regard to references beyond painting and narrative logic, I am drawn to cinematography, specifically the composition, how colour can determine a mood and pattern can trigger nostalgia.
How does your background in Psychology and Neuroscience affect your work?
It has always infiltrated my work. I am interested in the subconscious and how we as humans process cognitions and emotions. Whether it be my paintings, sculptures or film there is always an element of my personal experiences at that time that are portrayed in the work. Especially with my first short film ‘Hear My Cry’ which was about my experience of becoming a mother and postnatal depression.
You choose to work across many different materials, techniques, and styles. Why?
I specialised in painting during my foundation year at Art School and have been in love with paint ever since. It is my primary medium, but more recently perhaps in the last 6 years I have been able to learn new skills through my teaching practice. I then started to knit and incorporate fabrics into my work, creating mixed media works. I have always started with collages and created images and stories that way. I think for me I just choose the appropriate media that connects to the idea or affect I am trying to create. I choose materials I am drawn to and don’t necessarily know why. For example, more recently I have been collecting vintage floral fabrics- and then it dawned on me it’s because the floral blanket was my transitional object as a child.
What are the benefits of that? What are the challenges?
The benefits of using different media is that I feel challenged. Being neurodiverse means that I am constantly in need of a focused challenge and using various techniques and processes allows me to to fulfill that. Also, I enjoy working with slow processes and faster ones at the same time, so I may do a painting in one go in the studio and then simultaneously work on a textile embroidery piece. It maintains excitement and momentum.
The challenges I find are keeping up the momentum. In an ideal world I like to work on a few paintings at the same time, which then becomes a series, if the space allows this. Balancing being a mother and an artist can also sometimes be a challenge as I need to be able to switch headspace quite quickly, and one requires me to be selfish and the other selfless! Managing time is also a challenge, as when I am painting mode, it feels like nothing else exists and time stays still.
What are you working on now?
Whilst not having a studio to work in for the past 6 months, I have been working on A5 small acrylic painting and have made about 50 works that will inform my larger paintings once I move into my new Bow Arts studio. My source material has been photos I capture on my iPhone: mundane, everyday things that I gravitate towards, making reference to the unending and overwhelming images flow of images on social media. I intend to to make ‘fast’ images slower and more captivating in the acrylic painting.
What do you think is your greatest acheivement so far?
My short film Hear My Cry, is probably one of my biggest achievements. Having had no film experience, I threw myself into producing, creatively directing, and acting as myself in it over a 2 month time period. It was a total thrill. It was then screened at The Everyman in Kings Cross, raising money and awareness for PANDAS Foundation which I am really proud of.
Do you have any upcoming projects you are excited about?
I have written an Art Activity Book for children for my business Artbuddies, which I am so excited about as it’s one of my passion projects. I am also planning to work on a larger series of canvases as well as make my second film next year.
About Jennifer Louise Martin
Jennifer is interested in how mental states alter our engagement with reality, the way that psychological shifts can imbue seemingly banal everyday objects or even surface patterns with a kind of confused aura to hint at a melancholic undertow. Her work is predominantly painting, including having made a film and performance. Multiple ways of working allow her to explore the tension between immediacy and more procedural forms of making. Collage is the thinking process; painting is how images and patterns are determined that hint at a deeper significance. The artist’s own photography makes reference to the unending and overwhelming flow of images on social media, fashion in particular. Painting these (cutting, pasting and editing) is an attempt to make ‘fast’ images become slower and more captivating. This clash of the mass produced, the hand-made, the commercial image and the privacy of one’s inner visual world is central to the work. With regard to references beyond painting and narrative logic, Jennifer is drawn to cinematography, specifically the composition, how colour can determine a mood and pattern can trigger nostalgia.
Martin graduated with honours in Psychology and Neuroscience at Leeds University in 2003. She has also studied at Central St. Martins completing a Foundation course and a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art. In 2010 she qualified as a secondary school art teacher and is the founder of Artbuddies. She was part of the Turps Banana Art School in 2012, mentored by Marcus Harvey. Jennifer has completed a residency at Vermont Studio Center, USA as well as in Berlin and Los Angeles. Having worked in the Advertising industry before her teaching career, Martin enjoys collaborating with brands and has done so with Estee Lauder, MC Overalls, & Laura Bailey. She has had solo exhibitions in London. New York, & Los Angeles.
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