JILLIAN PORTEOUS : EXPLORING THE MARK
Jillian Porteous has had an affinity with creativity since early childhood. Filling the spare back pages of her school books with paintings and drawings until a lack of space would meet in the middle. After her schooling wrapped up, the wider world called her name and as a result gifted her access to the unique and whimsical lens she now sees daily life through. In a style true to early 20’s living Jillian embraced the fascinating and unfamiliar cultures and art of Europe (and had a stint in) Madrid and Athens for a number of years, before reconnecting with country and family in 1980 and finding her feet at art school in Dunedin shortly after.
With a sense of exploration, natural curiosity, and fondness for a distinct habitat and the workings within it, Jillian still continues to explore ‘the mark and colour’ within her creative work - what she attributes as a major influencer when it comes to her visual storytelling.
What are you working on right now?
“For my solo exhibition I thought I’d speak about habitat. Because I live right beside the last little wild bit of the Clutha River and I’m influenced by what I see around me, living in the country you become very observant of your environment as there's little distraction. There are lots of seabirds that nest near the river, so I thought I’d talk about habitat and about how we humans interact with nature, as an intensive transformation of landscape and habitats is a significant contribution to our increasing loss of biodiversity. We are so busy with our lives it's not a thing one notices until you stop and start observing.”
What role do you think art plays in stimulating broader conversations?
“My ‘Points of View series’ - that I exhibit in a large grid of small paintings, are about that moment or that thing that landscape gives us, and is so much a part of us. For me my small 'Points of View' paintings are wanting to capture those special moments of interaction with the landscape that will hopefully be an emotional connection for people. I think the paintings work through colour, colour represents emotion. That’s the conversation I think I’m having.”
What is one piece of life advice that’s never left you?
Jillian: “Just to get on with it, don’t waste it. Don’t look back, look forward…..Live it.”
“And travel is a wonderful thing. It broadens the mind.”
Do you have a specific technique you carry out when painting?
“As a 17 year old, I started out as what they call a ticket writer. They don’t have people doing that kind of work now, but you painted words and illustrations on big sheets of card for shop signage and advertising. So in that I learnt calligraphy, and learnt to use a brush and how to mix colours very well. My work is still really influenced by the mark, and the emotional influence of colour, but I also work in layers and wiping back, I think my painting is distinctive because of my palette.
She even has the glasses of her old calligraphy teacher sitting pride of place on her studio bookshelf to this day….