Jessica Peatman

Reconstructed Recollections, Jessica Peatman, Photo Intaglio, digital print on Stonehenge paper

I have created a collection of surreal, dream-like visions and narratives which investigate my childhood memory and emotion. These images were created using mixed media techniques as well as the photo intaglio printing process. Photo intaglio or photogravure is a process whereby a metal plate is coated with a light sensitive gelatin, which is then exposed to a film positive and then etched like a traditional etching plate. The process of these prints involved working traditionally with graphite and combining those images with digital practices and effects. The photo etching process allows one to seamlessly combine these various media. Depicted here are various scenes involving childlike figures, gestural marks and fragments of reality. My prints are hung with black enameled entomology pins, to reflect analysis, dissection and an attempt to understand. 

We all would like to protect our young children from the difficulties that life presents. We often attempt to raise and envision them in a safe and protected bubble, free from the harshness and brutality of the world. My work aims to explore the opposition of a child’s perceived innocence and naivety, as well as my own. Juxtaposing the perceived naivety of a child with the mysterious environments and situations I have depicted invokes an uncomfortable tension. Children’s stories often display real children in a fabricated and fantastical setting. My prints depict imitated children amongst realistic settings. By doing this, I can access and explore an alternate perception of childhood that doesn’t express a stereotypical view of childlike naivety. Regarding childhood with a sombre contemplation seems appropriate considering the uncertain climate of today identified by instability, fear, widening injustices and inequalities and the volatile nature of the world. These binaries of childhood and maturity, innocence and deviance, joy and sorrow represent an ongoing battle, but also display the necessity of both that allow us to learn, develop and grow. I aim for the children in my images to hold power and agency and represent wisdom and knowledge.

Returning to childhood and childlike notions of play and imagination helps me search for my own identity and create meaning from my experiences.  Similar to the work I have created my life is dictated by binaries. My youngest brother is 10 years younger than I am, so I’m consistently shifting between a kid’s environment and my own maturing life style. I am also the eldest, and the very young age at which I became a care giver has a lifelong effect on my personality. As part of a foster family that cares for infants, I am impacted not only by the constant presence of small children, but I come to love children that I never see grow up. Therefore, my desire to grow into regular adulthood is held back. At times these facts of my life deter and frustrate me, but I have come to recognize the potential of its influence not only in my artwork, but its power and importance in my life’s meaning.

 

Jessica Peatman