Profile: Jessie Lumb

Bubble gum stains painted on Hindley Street and embarking on a nation-wide tour with a tarpaulin are just some of the projects that have kept sculptor and installation artist Jessie Lumb busy in 2013.

The bubble gum stains were part of Arte Magra at the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (AEAF) and Lumb has been on the road since May with the mobile Artist Run Initiative (ARI), Tarpspace. All this hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed with Lumb recently named as the recipient of the Visual Arts Critics Circle award for 2013. The Visual Arts Critics Circle (part of the greater Adelaide Critics Circle) has been running since 2000 and each year they present an award to an outstanding emerging visual artist. One of the most important elements of Lumb’s work is the site itself whether in a gallery or a public space. “I spend a lot of time in the space trying to find an element of it that I find interesting or that has been overlooked. So things like shadows, the textures of the walls and cracks in the ground,” explains Lumb. She then intervenes in the space with colour or pattern and highlights these little details that might otherwise be missed. While the site itself helps dictate the direction Lumb’s work might take, there are also external forces that influence her choice of materials. “It generally depends on what materials I can find where I am. The colours I use within that material is whatever is available at the time – when I have used plasticine for instance, or paper, my colours are limited to whatever comes in the pack that I have bought,” she explains. It’s the moment of discovery that is most important to Lumb. “My ultimate thinking when I am making the work is to make somebody smile with colour and pretty things in a very subtle way. The most important thing for me is the moment when you encounter the work.” Lumb says her interventions into our everyday world are quite often subtle, so the viewer might have to search for them a bit. Take the work she presented for Arte Magra, for example, When the flavour was gone, I pondered my mortality – the bubble gum stains painted on Hindley Street – some people walked right by and didn’t even notice them while others walked around the stains but carried on with their day. Then there were those who actually stopped and engaged with the work. The ARI project Tarpspace is a further extension of Lumb’s fascination with space and how we interact with it. The Tarpspace team, which also includes fellow UniSA graduates Henry Jock Walker and Brad Lay, has been on the road since May, travelling around the country. The mobile ARI revolves around a giant tarpaulin, which artists incorporate into their artwork. “We are trying to get contemporary art out into different areas and challenge the model of what an artist-run space can be. Rather than having an actual space that people have to fit the work into, we take the space to them and they fit the space to the work they want to make with it.” Images: Jessie Lumb

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