Jessie Makinson is a London-based artist who is currently 'artist in residence' at City & Guilds art school, having previously attended Turps Banana Studios, The Royal Drawing Schools and Edinburgh College of Art. She won the Marmite Prize in 2016 and has exhibited at Roman Road and Edel Assanti.
Her multi-layered works have a surreal, fairytale quality whilst also referencing art-history, bringing to mind great painters such as Breugel and Hieronymous Bosch. Her dynamic landscapes are placeless and timeless. Although heavily imbued with narrative and symbolism - this narrative is not a linear one. Her work evokes both the past and the future using incredibly varied stylistic cues that hint to specific eras - but stand in stark contrast with each other - from coiffed 1930's ladies hairstyles, to a Rococco palette, to the presence of Greek gods and Classical motifs. This makes her work at once familiar and strange, like a dream.
Pattern plays an important and symbolic role in her work, not only does it disrupt the planes of the picture, creating spatial screens and distorting reality, but it is also used to say something about the characters' personalities. The etching, Running Whisper, employs a repetitive crescent pattern on the wall giving us a sense that the nymph is young, playful and dynamic; she looks in the mirror as she leaves the house, preparing her arrows. Jessie often makes reference to the unseen in her work - her figure looks in the mirror but not at herself - is there someone behind her? Here, Jessie's skill as a draughtsman is exemplified in her beautiful rendering of the wooden floorboards.
The titles of her works provide an added interest. Titled like chapters in a book, they suggest that these captured moments form scenes that are part of a larger story, however they do not always correlate with each other and remain intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting the viewer to form their own narrative. King Me brings to mind the work of Lewis Carroll or Grimms Fairytales, at once charming and sinister.
Jessie's work presents a complex understanding of the etching medium. This way of working requires a honed understanding of how to effectively use negative space as well as a scientific aptitude for using acid to create such a rich and varied display of tonality. By allowing acid to dissolve areas of the metal etching plate for certain lengths of time, different depths are created, allowing the ink to become more intense in the deeper grooves. Thus, the longer and deeper that the acid burns into the plate, the richer and darker the tone of the ink on the page will be as a result.
These two etchings were made exclusively for Partnership Editions and are an interesting departure from her much more colourful paintings, yet a continuation of her previous characters and themes. Through these paired-down, monochromatic works we really appreciate Jessie's skill as a draughtsman, a storyteller and her great eye for composition.