The truth is, I’ve been following Jacqueline Calladine’s compelling work on Instagram for over a year now. I discovered her when she made a purchase from our shop last spring, and I quickly fell in love with her art, and her ethos. When I invited Jacqueline to participate in our Spring Artist Interview Series, I was over the moon when she said yes. Read below to get to know Jacqueline, and the organic, sustainable beauty she creates.
When did you first self-identify as an artist? Tell us a little bit about how your identity relates to your art.
I trained as a textile designer and didn’t see myself as an artist until my early 40’s. I started to feel my design work wasn’t fulfilling me creatively, and I had a desire to work more conceptually. I didn’t know how to transition into the art world but when a client asked me to frame some of my textile samples I realized they could be shown in a gallery setting. That was a big “aha” moment for me. As a designer, I responded to a brief given to me by the client. As an artist, I’m able to create work that reflects my own values and is an extension of my identity. Being British (I’ve lived in Seattle for 7 years) many of the themes running through my work relate to finding my place in this new land and figuring out what “home” means.
What other artists, writers, or themes have influenced your own artmaking?
I am hugely influenced by the women land artists of the 1970’s such as Agnes Denes and Mary Miss. I continually go back to the work of Louise Bourgeois – its breadth and honesty is astounding. Tracey Emin’s art is beautiful in the way it reflects both the strength and fragility of being a woman and inspires me to be more vulnerable in my own work. I’ve recently been devouring the writing of Lucy R. Lippard who is an American art critic, activist and curator. Her writing on feminist art feels very necessary now and has encouraged me to have a stronger voice around being an ecofeminist.
Why does art in general matter in our current social, political, or global climate? How does your own art speak to a challenge in the world today?
Art always matters, regardless of the current climate. Nobody needs an excuse or a reason to create art, it’s part of the human condition. However, art can also drive positive social change and can be a valuable tool in community development. It can be a great way to encourage non-threatening debate around sensitive topics and encourage folks to engage in local community issues. My own art work speaks to such issues as environmental justice, climate change, degrowth economy, reduction of plastics and petrochemicals and encourages other artists to green up their studio practices. You can enjoy the work for its superficial beauty but you can also engage with it on a conceptual level.
Who are your greatest champions? Tell us a little bit about your friends, family, or mentors.
One of my greatest champions is my friend Jessica Kravitz who founded VALA Eastside, a nonprofit arts organization on the Eastside. I’ve worked with VALA in many capacities and Jessica has been a supporter and collector of my art as well as a trusted friend. Another dear friend is film photographer Marisa Mouton. She has an amazing artistic eye, is just the coolest woman I know, and we share a love of indie movies, coffee, and polaroids. My 19-year-old son is my best art critic. He can look at my work and tell me exactly what’s working and what isn’t. He knows when I’m holding back and encourages me to take more risks with my work.
What advice do you have for young artists?
Find your own voice. And to do that you may have to stay away from social media for a while. There’s so much art that looks alike nowadays and that’s partly due to the influence of platforms such as Instagram. It’s easy to be influenced by what you see on a screen but it’s vital to create fresh, original work.
Know whose shoulders you stand on. Understand your own legacy and how your art builds upon the work of previous artists; be respectful of that but don’t be afraid to be a legacy breaker – the art world needs new business models and ways of showing up to art as a practice.
Finally, be eco-conscious! Just because you’re an artist you don’t get a free pass when it comes to being earth friendly in your materials, tool, and ways of making. Be a mindful maker.
Anything else you would like to share about your story as a female artist?
Apart from my own art practice I also support other women artists through my portfolio of Wild Creative offerings. I offer tools and teaching to facilitate the journey towards being an eco-friendly artist, and I focus on ways of working in harmony with the Earth. I’m about to re-launch this business and more information can be found on Instagram @wildcreativelife.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Jacqueline.