Savannah Jarvis​

Tell us a bit about your practice--what do you explore in your practice and why?


At present my practice explores how the sensations of the body can be understood in painting via the use of  metaphoric expression. I’m interested in the aestheticisation of uncomfortable bodily effects, more  specifically I refer to chronic pain conditions like endometriosis. My latest body of work examined the  language used in the diagnosis of endometriosis and how language itself, in this context, has failed  expressions of pain. I think that’s a very fun place to navigate, figuring out how to assign communicative  tools to something that is naturally evasive to language.  

The paintings I make do seem to belong to a process of translation for myself, and the ways in which people  can externally communicate interior process and I believe this occurs in the navigation of familiar objects and  commonly coded experiences being re-contextualised to be seen afresh. I don’t know if the paintings are  necessarily a way for me to investigate and communicate my personal experience per-say, but moreover  they stem from an interest in and interrogation of systems of communication themselves. This is all a broad  run though and limited by how early stage these explorations are — I’m hoping to go more into depth on over  the course of the coming year, bringing more of a sculptural element to my practice and installations. I think  the conceptual aspect of my work would benefit from the expansion of medium, but I don’t think I’ll ever stray  far from painting.  


What is the importance of art in broader society?


Art walks us through and allows us to confront subjects, histories, potential futures, discomforts and shared  joys in a way that is deeply entrenched in and accessible by community. Often when you’re looking at an  exhibited body of work you are looking as a long term study into a very specific and potentially even  alienable subject, which has now been presented in a way that could be absorbed by many easily.  Fundamentally art tells stories, and our shared stories form a fundamental component of culture. And as  countless reports have shown, art has measurable beneficial impacts on the communities it is promoted in.  For example, the Arts Council Englands’ 2014 review showing “strong evidence that participation in the arts  can contribute to community cohesion, reduce social exclusion and isolation, and/or make communities feel  safer and stronger.” And further finding “high-school students who engaged in the arts at school are twice as  likely to volunteer than those who don’t engage in the arts and are 20 percent more likely to vote as young  adults.” Art has the ability to encourage and benefit society in truly meaningful ways. 


What are you currently working on at the Outer Space Studio? 


Right now I’m starting a new body of work continuing the exploration of the body but taking a bit of a turn  towards emphasising discomfort and alienation of one’s own body — same subject matter as the previous  body of work but a different treatment. I’ve been really drawn to imagery and literature surrounding historical  homes and haunted homes and have started making works with these, using the idea of a space that both  seemingly alive and is actively rejecting you as a way of discussing my own feelings towards my body. It  sounds a little bleak, but I’m hoping to apply a Reparative Aesthetic kind of approach to the imagery so  ultimately it will be a comfortable engagement with discomfort. I've also found the space quite good for  experimentation with scale so as I settle into the space I’m hoping to create some bigger works that have not been practically accessible to me outside of a studio — I’m very lucky to hold this space at the moment as  want to milk the kind of ‘big room that doesn’t mind if there's paint on the walls for now” as much as I can. 

Outer Space acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land where this project takes place, Meanjin, and pays respect to Elders - past, present and emerging. 

Outer Space  is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Outer Space is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.

Outer Space is proudly supported by