STUDIO ARTIST INTERVIEWS
Can you tell us a little about yourself? How did you become an artist?
My name is Savannah Jarvis and I’m a 22 year old painter in Brisbane. I really love exaggerated or funny story telling and using painting to try do that. I think, like anyone else in this field usually, I really enjoyed it from a young age. I kept that interest up, ended up moving to Brisbane to go to a high school that was heavy on the arts and then I got a bachelors in Fine Art. I met some incredible people at university and it all taught me a bit of how being an artist works and what it means, I was lucky enough to get a job in art, and to be supported by the community around me (in particular Outer Space), then eventually my job became making art — thankfully.
How do you describe the work that you make?
I think that a majority of the work I make is concerned with indirect storytelling. I see a lot of my paintings as one-liners or off hand jokes, usually as a way of talking about an uncomfortable personal history. The intersection of something silly and severity is important to me. It’s a good way for me to think over things and talk about them with people. My focus has recently narrowed down to sign making, exaggeration and metaphor, but it is still looking at affective and comfortable ways of having a conversation about whatever the focus of the work is for whoever wants to engage with that part of them.
What’s your earliest memory of making art? Do you feel like the work you make now has a connection to that moment?
My earliest memory of making art is my mum giving me a canvas and some paints and we just spent the day together - I painted a big ocean and it was mostly a really intense shade of hot pink. I don’t know if my work now has a connection to that painting in particular but I really loved that day so maybe continuing to do painting was a part of that.
When did you realise you needed a studio space? Was it a conscious decision or something you’ve always understood to be a requirement for being an artist?
I have been quite lucky with studio spaces — by the time I starting producing bodies of work intended for exhibition I was in university so I had a studio available to me there and in the interim between university studios and Outer Space I had enough room in my bedroom to work there on a small scale. I think the value of a studio space was really pointed out to me working in Natalya’s studio, seeing the kind of efficiency you get by separating your workspace from your bedroom amongst other things! I think it’s very valuable to an artist and allows you a bit more freedom in the kind of work you make. I mean I have also lived in rentals for a while now and have singlehandedly been the reason for losing the bond.
Can you tell us a little about your process? What does a day in the studio look like for you? Do you spend entire days in the studio, or do you flit in and out?
It depends — usually a day in the studio for me is spent planning and then I’ll leave and come back quite late to work on the paintings. I think my process is also very cyclical — some weeks I won’t get to any painting and then it’ll be a period of nothing but. I don’t think I’m alone in that though that seems to just be the way it goes. I think my studio hours are very irregular but it’s a system that works well for me. So flit in and out for sure, yes.
Outer Space is situated in the cultural hub of Brisbane, with major institutions and commercial galleries within walking distance. Does this impact your experience of the studio? If so, how?
It makes me feel very lucky to have access to the studio space. Walking through the galleries of Outer Space when headed upstairs to the studio even has an impact, it makes things feel very proper I guess. Having Milani so close by is a blessing too; if you’re not in the headspace for making work you do have the opportunity to go downstairs and see some incredible works, and then go for a walk and see some more at Milani. It’s great for framing things and getting your head around some of the work that’s coming out of Brisbane right now and then going back to work to try be a part of that!
How important is a location to studio spaces? What are the essentials you have in mind when looking for somewhere to work?
I don’t drive so I do prefer to have somewhere I can access in about 30 minutes on public transport or with my legs. But I think any space where you are free to just power through in whatever way you need is valuable — essentials for me would be good lighting and ventilation. Any other variables I can totally work with, kind of a ‘if the possums are loud bring some headphones’ outlook.
Finally, why is art, and being an artist important right now?
I think art is important right now because of it’s an incredible community. We are unfortunately in a very scary and isolating time but I’m seeing so many examples of people working hard to stay connected in new ways, especially through Outer Space — Sally Molloy and Outer Spaces’ art swap is a great example of this! And you’re seeing this with local businesses like Practice Studio as well. They’re working really hard to stay safe and stay in touch during this period too and I think that these institutions are uplifting and supportive in a time that it is absolutely necessary. It’s also really great to see people working and thinking through things with art, which is something I believe it has always been about.