Jasmine Targett’s practice focuses on understanding our intimate relationship to nature and universal connection to the cosmos. Working with glass, the celebrated material hero of the scientific world, Jasmine’s work interrogates a view through the darker-side of the lens into Anthropocentrism and its environmental impacts. This subversive undertone is explored through a select range of mediums and techniques incorporating NASA – made glass, hand blown glass, recycled materials, silk, aluminium, steel, porcelain, watercolour, photography, painting and installation.
Jasmine’s practice often involves collaborating with scientists from NASA and Antarctica, Melbourne University and the Earth Satellite Observing Centre (EOS) to create artworks that universally educate on weather, astronomy, the universe, climate change and existence.
In 2018 her work As Above, So Below, on anthropogenic (environmental pollution caused by human activity) ozone eating clouds was profiled by the United Nations and World Meteorological Organization for COP24 Climate Change Conference. The work draws attention to the invisible aspects that impact our existence and unite us and the themes we struggle with in our humanity. Jasmine is currently working with the UN on artwork for the 2019 Global Climate Change Summit.
How do you describe your work to others?
As a kind of techno-romantic exploration into nature and how we make sense of existence. A lot of my work focuses on climate change and the challenges this presents us as individuals and collectively. I’ve always been interested in our intimate connection to nature and universal connection to the cosmos. The big ‘meaning of life’ stuff.
Do you have a preferred medium?
I work predominately in glass – any and all. Hand blown, cast crystal, recycled, scientific, antique, lenses and prisms. Materially speaking glass is the hero of the scientific world, I like to explore a darker side of the lens that this exploration reveals into Anthropocentrism and its environmental impacts. The materials work hand in hand with the subject matter.
I also work with silk, aluminium, steel, porcelain, watercolour, photography, painting and installation practice.
How do you begin new work?
With an idea or a medium. If I find a unique and interesting way to work with a material I think about what it can successfully communicate visually about the subject matter I am driven by then the material leads. If it’s a moment where I am doing research and I find a theory, concept or fact that I feel is important to explore visually then the theory leads and the material follows.
Do you tend to work in series or do you see your body of work as a continuation?
I see my body of work as a continuing exploration. In the beginning I would get frustrated with myself for not following a prescribed style or solitary medium. It took me a while before I had made enough work to realise my practice was bigger than I had initially realized. The more I ‘zoomed out’ things came into focus and made sense. I just needed to make more before the full narrative began to reveal itself.
What attracts you to your subjects?
Often compassion or outrage. Compassion for nature and outrage at how ridiculous outdated modes of thinking are about the world. I think its ridiculous that humans pretend we aren’t all connected to and dependent on our environment. The material world we create is an illusion and exploiting natural resources and people is futile. Ultimately climate change is a problem with people and I am interested in exploring the void, the distance between humans and nature. I am starting to ask questions like physiologically drives our choices and how have we gotten ourselves collectively into this predicament. I do believe that ultimately we will find practical and positive solutions by stepping up and becoming our ‘best selves’ as a society but I wonder about the cost and what we might lose along the way. The collateral damage.
What processes do you use to bring your ideas to life?
Begin with scribbles. Drawings, ideas, words. Fragments. The finished artwork is the sentence and the body of work is the book. From notes it transitions into designs then sculptural pieces. Cast glass, blown glass, prints on silk depending on which materials best convey the subject matter.
What do you use as reference material?
Everything. Conversations, articles, essays, lectures, public forums notes, NASA images, satellite imagery, astronomical photography, newspaper images anything is fair game.
Do you work intuitively or more consciously?
I think a balance of both. Sometime I have to trust that voice inside of me that is saying ‘this is relevant, this is important’, even though at the time I can only see one piece of the puzzle that is the work. I know that by the end of the aesthetic research and theory surrounding the work that by the end it will form a full picture and cohesive story. Usually the strangest and most unexpected things that spark my attention end up making the more intriguing works.
What’s your favourite colour to work with?
Rainbow, light, prisms, clear glass and anything reflective. I’m not sure if that’s a colour but it is my present colour palate.
Where do you create?
In my studio, my house, my bed, my bathtub. I wrote a whole thesis in the bath. It was the only place I wasn’t distracted and no one needed anything from me. “Where’s Jaz?” “She’s in the bath… she’ll we a while”. Since leaving art school I have trained myself to think of my mind as my studio so that where ever I am ideas and whole works can be created and its not reliant on my physical space. That way I can be anywhere and I just need a scrap of paper to get the idea down and I can sketch it out in full later.
Do you have a studio ritual to start the session?
I usually clean and organize my space and then I am ready to work.
What’s your favourite music to work to?
Soul, funk, blues. When I am making collage-based work its always blues. In the glass blowing or cold working studio its usually something vintage, up and soul.
Do you enjoy coming up with titles?
Yes! It feels like it completes the work and sets its place within the broader context of the narrative my work is exploring.
What’s your favourite part of creating?
The idea that sparks the work then getting the design down. I try to be economical and pair back the aesthetic so its not too many ideas at once. Fabricating ban be fun, especially if its something that I can do in my lap like carving out of wax or drawing
What advice would you give to your emerging self?
Just keep going.
Have you ever worked with a mentor?
Yes. I have worked with one and as one so I have seen both sides of the coin. That’s what a really great teacher is. I have been lucky to have a few magical ones walk across my path and influence my practice. It’s reassuring to have mentors you can call on to ask for advice. The road to being an artist is very long and there are many parts to it that you cannot predict or prepare yourself for. That’s why having teachers, collegues and mentors that you trust is invaluable.
How do you alleviate the down times?
A few things… I think of my mentors, the time and the wisdom they have shared with me and that usually gives me faith and inspires me to keep on going. I talk to my family, they remind me of the authenticity of my practice, how much it means, what I am trying to do with it and how it contributes to the world. And then… I go for it. I shoot my arrow forward. I spend a chunk of time applying for new opportunities. I put it out there to the universe and every time something good comes back. Sometimes happiness can be found even in the darkest of times. You just have to remember that no one is going to come to your studio to find you. You’ve got to keep putting yourself out there to the world until you find/create your place to bloom.
What defining moments have you experienced within your practice?
I worked in painting for about 5 years, briefly became fascinated with photography and light. This led me into glass. From the first time I blew a bubble in the hot shop and polished it in the coldworking room, I was in bliss. Painting/drawing/photography are my Alpha and Glass is my Omega.
Listening to Guy Abrahams’ talks on art and climate change then working with Climarte has had a huge influence on my work. It has led me to where I currently am working with the United Nations on a new body of work.
What is the most memorable exhibition or artwork you have seen and why?
Michael Craig-Martin’s ‘An Oak Tree’. I was 21 and travelling around the UK. It just made me understand contemporary art. Something clicked and I was head-over-heals for art and everything that it had the potential to do.
Anything with Patricia Piccinini. I love hearing her talk as much as I love seeing her work.
Olafur Eliasson’s ongoing practice. I love the openness of his work and the community/culture/conversations that the work opens up.
Most of all I love seeing the work that my colleagues are doing. The current Melbourne arts scene is pretty evocative.
If you could ask any artist any question, what would it be?
I would ask Vincent Van Gogh to please stay. I think he had so much to offer the world and we had a lot to learn from his way of seeing nature and the world.
What does the future hold for you?
Making Making Making. Thinking. Doing. Making.
Having another baby.
Working for the United Nations on a new body of work.
Spending time in the studio pondering and pottering. You’re welcome to join me there for a cup of tea and chat anytime.