From the ground up with Jenny Orchard
Sydney based Jenny Orchard is creating creatures that are a reminder of a time when we were new. New in the natural world, unaffected by cynicism, unaware of personal flaws. These creatures she is working on are a part of her growing collection of weirdly voluptuous artworks created out of clay. Having been raised between Turkey, the UK, Zimbabwe and now calling Sydney home, Jenny Orchard is a truly unique artist with a beautiful outlook on life.
You were born in Turkey, raised in Zimbabwe and now live in Sydney. How do you think your upbringing has influenced your work?
My upbringing has definitely influenced my work, Zimbabwe in the sixties was actually a beautiful place to be for a child who loves animals and huge horizons.
I have no recollection of Turkey as I was three when I left, but I remember vividly the Isle of Wight where we stayed before going to Zim, the intense green grassy hills and my father’s khaki army uniform, (he was in the diplomatic corps in Turkey) when we arrived in Zimbabwe he was a free man and I remember the amazing blue sky and bright red soil, animals everywhere, (really cool animals) and yellow savannah, so I guess I’m in love with colour because of those intense wonderful contrasts. The people too were amazing…….and a different colour, and everything seemed beautiful, even the space between things. I want to awaken that feeling again with my work and say, “this is strange and you’re seeing it for the first time….what do you think?”
Do you have a favourite place that has inspired you the most?
My favourite place is London, because there you can walk down the street and see people from everywhere and it all feels natural, there’s a sense of history that belongs to everyone, the place has a buzz I love. I’m inspired by wherever I am though, so right now it’s St Peters, Sydney.
Your works are, for the most part, very vibrant and quirky in form. Where else do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from the natural world, of course, but I imagine what kind of creatures we are creating with our genetic engineering projects as well. The ethical issues are huge. I am imagining a re-created Garden of Eden, a place where each new creature has its moment before the fall, it has flaws but doesn’t know them yet. Apocalyptic visions imagine a world after the fall, but they always leave room for optimism, my creatures will be a reminder of “when we were new”.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process of making a piece? Where do you start?
I start each piece with a blank canvas- a lump of clay, I start forming and playing, put some music on – Daft punk or Nils Frahm, depending on the mood and they just make themselves, they come from another place.
Have you made many things that you don’t or didn’t like at all?
I often make things I’m not quite happy with, they live in the garden now.
Many of your works are figures, or with faces. Do they each tell a story?
Yes each figure has a story, they’re all part of a grand narrative in that tiny moment of paradise.
What is one thing you would like to convey through your art?
My art is about “oneness”. Every tiny thing we do, thought we have, is part of this infinite universe.
To see some more of her acclaimed work and exhibition information visit jennyorchard.com
By Vicki Fletcher @VickiFletcher88
Photography by Ellis Parrinder