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Introducing ENA’s first Muse

She’s the woman with the great the hair. The chocolate skinned beauty that will always win best dressed. The queen of glitter and gold, Jade Townsend is best known for her colorful mixed media renditions of consumerism and luxury. From studying Fine Art’s in Manchester, to fully engaging with the idea of becoming an artist back in New Zealand, Jade’s work welcomes the influence of fashion into the Art arena. Now as she packs down her Wellington based studio to venture back to London, we can only dream of being able to wear sheer vintage gowns with beaded bra’s as well as she does… 

Work & Process

 

Tell us about your workspace. How important is it to have a shared creative space with other artists. 

I have only ever had really positive workspaces, even if I have had a separate studio it has been around other artists in a shared building… I love running things past people, so I am lucky to be in a space (currently) with a bunch of artists whose opinions I respect. They are artists who are staunch about their concepts and their mediums which are different to mine. It means that we offer each other alternative perspectives… it is a diverse opinionated bunch which is ideal for robust critiques. 

 

How does your environment influence your work?

It’s amazing how opportunities come up when you switch your neighbourhood, city or country. There is so much potential for new ideas, materials and art-making processes. When I am in New Zealand I think about experiences in the UK and that feeds into my practice and vice versa. I belonging to two places and two cultures so there will always be a push pull scenario. Sometimes I make artwork that doesn’t make sense in New Zealand but would back in England and then the other way around. 

 

What does your creative state look like? Do you get waves of inspiration and produce or is it paced out around a revolving theme. 

It changes, deadlines are a good thing they keep you on track.  I am really good at starting a million things then as soon as I know how it should look, or how I should finish it I tend to stop till it needs to be ready for a show or a collector. I don’t think it (inspiration) really stops; you just have to be really good to yourself as an artist and keep feeding and feeding and feeding yourself really cool things. There’s a lot of obsession in the work I make. When I am really into something I tend to want to re-make it, re-form it with my own hands. I am currently making fan-art about a movie called Heathers. Why not? 

 
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“you just have to be really good to yourself as an artist and keep feeding and feeding yourself really cool things.”

 

“There’s a big part of my work that gets ugly before it gets any good. But now that I know that I’m chill about it”

 
 
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How do you get yourself to create when you aren’t feeling it? 

Sometimes I really ruin things then sometimes I just need to break through the ugly part. There’s a big part of my work that gets ugly before it gets any good. But now that I know that I’m chill about it. I try not to abandon too many pieces but then I can’t throw anything away because I always think I will go back to it. Like the stack of Chocolate boxes. There just so beautiful I can’t let them go.

 

Do you have to produce Art? Is it an integral part of who you are?

Yes because it is so much fun! It is pretty self-indulgent… I am so privileged. I feel like I can’t stop because of all the support that has gotten me to where I am now and I’m only just beginning my career as an artist. From anyone who has ever brought a piece of my work to anyone who has ever proof read a proposal . Also my Mum and Dad have only just gotten use to the idea that I am an artist not an architect. I was a drop-out.

 
 
 
 

Art & Fashion

 
 

Your work revolves around these ideas of consumerism and Luxury – Imitation and what it means to be ‘authentic’…  


Can you tell us about your most recent work R.I.P. ‘Kirks’ and what you are working on now? 

Kirks was such a tastemaker and a really huge part of how Wellingtonian’s constructed their identity according to the research I did at Wellington archives. This handsome building was a sign of prosperity; it brought things that people had never seen before… hand-made furniture from France and shoes from England. It used to hold exhibitions… 

Then it became so irrelevant to the modern consumer who has online access to buying whatever they want. I wanted to dedicate a project to honor the afterlife of Kirks, to shopping IRL.

My next project is a visual survey of the British High Street before the advent of online shopping. It is a project for the Slade School of Art, London. Reportedly there are 15 shops a week closing on the British High Street which means people are losing jobs and the retail landscape is rapidly changing. The Britishness of retail in the UK is in a state of flux and I find it fascinating. Support your local businesses!

 
 
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“The fashion industry is just so much better at absorbing everything and spitting it back out . I like the spectacle. Luxury brands often collaborate with artists and that can mean a big budget, press and utilizing non-gallery spaces. I often find the spaces inside fashion stores more beautiful than galleries. I’m seduced by the lighting, the smell, window displays, the counters and plinths.”

 
 

You are a Multi Media and Collage Artist. Your work ranges from using mass produced items, Lino, Paint and LED lighting. How do you come to choose your mediums and why?

I really love shiny things; I love what gold and reflection can do and how it can make something look glamorous and flashy, expensive and opulent. It has an amazing way of distracting you because it’s just so sparkly and gorgeous. It’s a really cool quality to work with because it’s so superficial. People sometimes engage with my work thinking that it is only about being superficial, or only about fashion as surface deep. As opposed to realizing that it is the aesthetic language of the materials I use. 

Have you always had this relationship with fashion in your work?

The fashion industry is just so much better at absorbing everything and spitting it back out . I like the spectacle. Luxury brands often collaborate with artists and that can mean a big budget, press and utilizing non-gallery spaces. I often find the spaces inside fashion stores more beautiful than galleries. I’m seduced by the lighting, the smell, window displays, the counters and plinths. It’s just so fast paced, which I really love. 

I was lackluster and institutionalized when I come out of art school, and didn’t know who I was as an artist and what the school had shaped. I wasn’t making things that really turned me on. I felt narrow and I wasn’t really free. So it wasn’t till I came back to New Zealand that I was like, it’s actually ok to make art that’s about all the things I’m interested in and that includes fashion. Fashion is actually really important. 

 
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You have worked with some very prolific international brands. What was that experience like?

Hermès and Comme des Garçons most notably. When you are working with those sorts of brands, brands that are so prolific in what they do, you are unlearning and relearning your concept of art and fashion. With Comme they present things that look aged and old, really challenging what a “new” garment can be. Their really good at re-indexing the system of values consumers use to determine if something is tasteful or well made. And challenge the hierarchy’s places on materials and how they are used. As soon as you are engaging with those brands you know that they are going to present everything beautifully. And that their ok with you challenging what it is that they do as well. 

 

“I can only make work from the perspective of a woman so I often use domestic objects and materials.”

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We Are Modern Women

One of the first conversations I had with you involved this idea on what it means to be a modern women and how now more so than ever is our time to excel…

 

What should we as women be talking about right now? What’s the important conversation?

Our ambitions, our mahi and how to find balance in our lives. I’ll always want a meaningful connection with women I work alongside. How can we be good friends and each other’s critics in a really constructive way?

I think as business women, just to narrow it down, the best thing we could be doing for each other is exactly what we’re doing now, which is having a face to face korero about the stuff that we really believe in; what we’re trying to do and in what ways can we feed into each other and prop each other up. Wellington has always been this incredible place full of insanely talented women grappling with ways to achieve more.

 

Any advice for future female creative’s? 

Don’t be afraid to be the best at what you’re doing. It’s really fucking cool to admit that you work hard!

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Interviewed & Edited by Nadya France - White
Photographed by Grace Gemuhluoglu