Jo Williams | Rabbit + Tassie + Charlie

Jo Williams, Earth blanket

Within about 60 seconds of meeting Jo Williams you are swept into her warm and gentle, funny and raw vortex of energy and you don’t really want to come out! Don’t panic though, this intuitive creative human has already clocked how wild you’d like the ride to be.

Most often my response to Jo’s work is the same: “let me get on that and not get off, please”. Jo’s practice is completely devoted, boots-all-in, spontaneous and deeply personal. From assemblages to works on canvas and an Everest-height, back-catalogue of process and final drawings, her work is like a continuous line drawing of her life lived through art, language and music.

Listen here (on Facebook) to Jo’s artist talk on her exhibition Me and Leonard and an old piano. It opened at Gatakers Artspace in Maryborough in March, just as Covid19 lockdowns came into place, so most of us didn’t get to see it. Don’t miss this talk, you may not want to come out either.

Jo has also arranged a satellite exhibition at Gatakers Artspace (more news to come) so look out for PRO / FOUND / Studio Dog – 25 September to 1 November – Maryborough. Yesssssss!

Jo, what is your art practice?
I’m a visual artist and usually work on themes in a random, organic exploration expressed in a diverse range of mediums—paintings, drawings, collage and assemblage—in my Art Cave.

Who are your studio companions?
My studio companions are my 9 year old dog Rabbit – he arrived in the Chinese New Year of the Metal Rabbit. He’s a Tibetan Spaniel, the Guardian of the Temple which means he parks himself on my feet at every opportunity.

Also in the studio, my rescue dog Tassie, a five year old Irish Wolfhound cross and my adopted cat Charlie – the only studio animal with her own door. The Spirit of my beloved dog Mickey, who died in my arms in the studio 3 years ago, is always present. A pastel portrait of my mother that I drew a few months before she died in 1981 overlooks us all.

What are you working on in your studio now?
I’m currently working on a series of Isolation Coats. I’m also working on art books on my dogs – “gods” spelt backwards.

How has the current imposed isolation changed what you’re doing? Has something really surprised you during this transition to ‘artist in quarantine’?
The lockdown had me digging deep. Once the mundane things, that had me tethered to the banal reality of day to day existence were denied me, I felt an incredible freedom. It’s taken a pandemic to dig out drawings I’ve been dragging around for thirty years and I found joy in ripping, tearing, emptying, sorting and cutting. They are now collaged into Isolation Coats – a series of Kimono shaped coats that suggest a gesture of surrender, a state of mind paramount in this current Covid lockdown.

Any special news about your art practice?
I was funded by the Fraser Coast Regional Council’s Creates Initiative to video art classes in my studio. This has been an amazing experience—completely out of my depth—but I found the whole process incredibly enriching. The series is now at the editors and will soon be available on Council’s and Gatakers websites and Youtube.

(Ed: For now you can find some workshops on Jo’s Art Cave Facebook page here. Jo’s work will be in Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery and along the Art Trail in Bundaberg.)

Rabbit and Tassie monitoring work in the Art Cave.

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