We recently had the pleasure of catching up with JoJo Spook, the maker behind those marine creatures currently occupying our space. Here’s what JoJo shared with us.
What inspired you to become an artist/maker? How did you learn your craft, and what drew you to it?
I grew up in an active creative household. My mum was a commercial artist and my father an engineer. I was always building something, making my own fun and always eager to try something new. Mum taught me to paint, pottery and I started welding with dad when l was 9. I was always encouraged to be creative and always considered myself as an artist of some sort. Later on I started night classes at Tafe, I was 15. The year after I got into Monash University with a folio, a mixture of sculpture and painting completing a BA in Fine Art. Still thirsty for knowledge I attended Monash University and completed a BA of Craft, a Masters and finally a Dip Ed.
Can you please describe your typical process for creating a piece?
I collect loads of things that I hold onto for that designated piece or assemblage. I am inspired by my experiences and surroundings and my work coincides with this. A typical week could be teaching at school, thinking about art, waking up in the night and resolving that issue or idea. I let problem solving take a big part, and I enjoy the challenge, planning a piece never goes well. My life is spontaneous so the work goes with it.
What themes or messages do you try to convey through your art?
My partner is a pilot and we travel a lot in our small aeroplane that we can fit a double bed in, we call it the “flying caravan”. We travel to quite remote places and I enjoy the camping experience and collecting momentos from my trips away being metal scraps or going painting in the outback. My message is get out and see this amazing country, don’t get stuck in the same spot or box. Look at your environment and care for it, including our oceans. That’s where the use of nets and washed up ropes are used, creating awareness. Collecting metal symbolises time gone by, each piece holding a memory.
What sets your work apart from other makers in your field?
Humour – if you can’t laugh you will die crying. I like a bit of quirkiness in my work along with an issue, like using teapots to symbolise temporary housing for sea creatures. I try not to get too affected by what is going on in the world, its depressing, I prefer to turn it into a positive.
What sets my work apart, I suppose the materials that I use and the skills I portray. It could be metal, clay, found objects, painting, collage, textiles… just depends on the idea or what is unfolding. I don’t stick to a style, I don’t think I have one, I just keep reinventing and evolving. I get bored pretty easily and I push myself as I like to be challenged.
I like my audience to connect with the work, have a laugh and have that discussion and be curious. I also like my work to be able to stand alone not have to be grouped or in a series to have strength.
What has been your proudest achievement as a maker so far?
In 2017, I hired a large Winnebago and drove 9,000 km on my own for six weeks. During this time I painted and collected items, went to every art gallery I could and art studio. I also spent a week with the elders in Queensland and Ghostnets Australia.
One of my largest pieces called “Kevin” the turtle was created from ocean rubbish in Ceduna with the elders and the community. He has since been on display at the National Indigenous Art fair in Sydney.
My most recent greatest achievement would be designing a program about ocean rubbish that I have delivered in schools. It’s a program about creating awareness of the harmful rubbish in the ocean and how it affects sea creatures. Students are encouraged to collect and create sea creatures for display.
Who are some of your biggest artistic/maker influences, and why?
I discovered Frida Kahlo in 1986 in a book and have never looked back. I have followed her work and exhibitions for years and admire and inspire her strength. Shes gutsy and never gave up despite her pain. She was an advocate for women and way ahead of her time.
My other passion is that I have always collected skulls since I was a little kid. Most people know this about me, my students find this amusing.
All of JoJo Spook’s creations are available to purchase and can be found here.