Jill Colchester, a contemporary artist and tutor at Abingdon and Witney College in Chipping Norton and Kidlington, prepares to show her latest body of work 'Looking At You' at her forthcoming new Artweeks exhibition (venue 433, 18th-27th May).
Previously on show in Berlin, the figures in the drawings in this exhibition hold the viewers gaze which, given the contemporary preoccupation with consent, pose the question whether the look invites you in, whether it is confrontational or is she simply looking back.
‘Historically the female model was passive, their eyes cast down, non-confrontational. In a few paintings, however, like Manet's Olympia and Goya's The Naked Maja, the model looks directly at the viewer. These were shocking for their time. ‘Looking At You is pertinent to the question of consent today,’ Jill explains. ‘The series is considering the body-language messages young people give out. The look given.'
As a trained dancer Jill is particularly drawn to the lightness of being, of fleeting movement and the grace, of dancers and tries to capture this elusive quality with dynamic lines. She works with models who will hold poses for only a brief amount of time before changing to another, and this unknown time constraint causes her to work gesturally and minimally.
Her drawings of these poses are laid over each other, challenging the viewer to see the figure in more than one way in the same drawing.
Jill works from her own studio, employing a model for hour long sessions. She usually draws using anything from chunks of graphite, charcoal, inks, (often using a quill for the unpredictability of line) and pastels. Her drawings often develop into paintings, using acrylic paints.
Looking At You can be seen from 18 – 27 May, (except 20, 21,22 May), in Chadlington, near Chipping Norton. Open 12 – 5pm.