Meet the Artist: Skye Jefferys
We love writing our blog because it gives us the opportunity to share with you a peak behind the artwork, at the diverse creative processes and inspiring stories of our artists. For this post we got to interview our newest recruit, the talented Skye Jefferys.
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Skye’s work mostly focuses on abstract painting that explores human relationships and connection. So I wasn’t surprised by the generosity and vulnerability with which she opened up about her art and herself. My favourite parts of learning about Skye’s art, are her fascinating creative process and the wisdom she has on the subject of making art. However, I’ll start from the beginning.
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Art and creativity were a big part of Skye’s childhood, she has created ever since she was young and her two siblings also work in creative industries. She originally studied Graphic Design at Monash University and then a Graduate Certificate in Painting at the VCA. At uni, Skye was far more interested in classes like illustration, collage and life drawing. She would find a way to use her hands to paint, draw, cut and paste for every assignment given. Like many artists she is always developing, experimenting, playing and practicing. 
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“I guess life experience led me towards painting, I was drawn to the materiality and physicality of it, the ability to push paint around a surface with a brush, to create shapes, forms and colours with complete freedom. To express myself in this way felt very natural. This was in stark contrast to my career in Graphic Design.”
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Over a decade ago, when her first child was born, Skye threw all her energy into painting and held her first solo show while living in Canberra at the Canberra Contemporary Artspace in 2013. This led to another solo show with The Design Files Collect Gallery in Collingwood and she has since continued to exhibit around the world including Asia and Europe. Because she has moved around and travelled so much over the past decade, her painting space has never really been a real studio.
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“It's always a tiny spare room, a cold, poorly lit garage, a dining table... But I don't need an inspiring space. My work comes from within. When I paint I am very deep in my inner world, the external space ceases to exist.”
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When asked what she tries to achieve with her work, Skye responds with enthusiasm, enjoying the question and taking time to consider her answer. She then admits that she doesn’t actually try to "achieve" anything. Her painting is very much about the process and getting into a state of flow is the most important part. Being ‘in the zone’ is very important to her while creating her art. She explains that it’s similar to meditation, in that the harder you ‘try’ to quieten your mind when you’re meditating, the further away you are from reaching that space. She has found that the harder she tries to ‘achieve’ something in her painting, the less successful it is.
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“So I am letting go – of all my expectations and thoughts and I just allow my energy to flow onto the canvas. It feels like an emptying of the mind and accessing a truth deep within – like freedom. Being in the zone also changes as a painting evolves. Sometimes I feel it so strongly - like an electrical current in my veins, then I am quite dynamic and fast in my movements. At other times I am content to stare at my work for sometime and then make small, considered marks on the canvas.”
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-Skye’s explanation of her creative process captures my imagination. Skye also teaches yoga and I wonder if this is something that has helped her develop her process and ability to let go and be in a state of flow. I imagine her movements as she paints and I find myself wondering about the line between movement and dance, between ‘letting go’ and meditation. How much I would love to be a fly on the wall to witness that magical flow while she creates her paintings. However, gazing at her work, I realise that I do not need to, as it is all there in the paint. I can see that movement, that ‘zone’, I can even start to feel it.
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“Ultimately I want to make work that viewers are drawn into... a surface area that one has an emotional response to, be it joy or wonder or hope. My paintings are positive and optimistic but I have no control over how a viewer responds, that is up to the individual and their perspective.”
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Skye paints with acrylics but when she is playing and experimenting she enjoys drawing with other materials such as cut-paper, collage and oil pastels. Her work explores human connection and the importance of it to our wellbeing. Something I think many of us can appreciate with an ever deeper understanding since this pandemic.
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“I've always explored abstraction as a means of understanding human relationships and connection; with ones self and with others. I play with shapes and forms and how they interact with one another, sometimes flowing and harmonious, other times clashing and jarring. Connection is such an integral part of our sense of wellbeing as individuals, but it is also in a constant state of flux. I draw on colour and gesture to express this.”
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Artworks in progress in Skye's creative space
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Skye is both inspired by and captivated with the early female artists working with abstraction. The work of Joan Mitchell, Judith Godwin, Helen Frankenthaler and Sonia Delaunay resonates with her because she feels a strong connection with them, the themes they explored in their artwork and what drew them to make art.
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"One of my favourite quotes about painting is by Judith Godwin who stated, 
‘The act of painting is for me, as a woman, an act of freedom, and a realisation that images generated by the female experience can be a powerful and creative expression for all humanity. My paintings are personal statements - extensions of myself. I take a truth, an intimate emotion, a question, an answer - and paint it.’”
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It seems to me that perhaps Skye has had some wise women in both her inspirations as well as her own life that in turn have made her a woman with wisdom herself with which she views life and art. Her children, who are now 8 and 10, have influenced her work and her commitment to her practice. She wants them to know that it's important to spend your life doing what you are passionate about, what makes you feel happy and fulfilled, if you are fortunate enough to have that opportunity.
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“It is a luxury not afforded to everyone, so when they know what fuels them, they should pursue it with gusto, whatever it is and I will support them. I want to be a good role model for them by showing that I am not only their mum, but I am an individual with ambitions, goals, desires and dreams that I work towards and prioritise. I am acutely aware of this because my own mum was very creatively unfulfilled and so when she became unwell at the age of 50 and I watched her decline with an illness she would never recover from, I understood that if you have a desire to make art, you must. It is too important not to. Life is short.”
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There is no better note to finish on than those inspiring words. We are in whole agreement with Skye that it is too important not to make art. Art is the essence of our human experience and is therefore essential. At any time but especially during times of adversity, art can offer us things such as inspiration, escapism and hope. Skye's work definitely fuels us with these and so much more.
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You can view all of Skyes artwork online HERE and come visit the gallery to experience her work in person as soon as restrictions once again allow.