Jordy wears ivory pleated blazer by Issey Miyake with jacquard check trousers by Song for the Mute. Shoes, worn throughout, Jordy's own.
From moment to moment, Jordy Hewitt's abstract canvasses can seem to scintillate between meditative stillness and deep turbulence. Always, though, there remains a richly compelling harmony, a sophisticated and uniquely intuitive interplay of tones and surfaces.
Captivated, Dilettante visited Jordy's Fremantle studio to hear her thoughts on art, motherhood, and life.
Jordy wears tie-dye top and wide cut trousers, both by Song for the Mute.
Diana: Can you shed some light on your process with us? Do you sketch and plan your paintings first, or dive straight onto a canvas?
Jordy: In all other areas of life I am a researcher and planner, but with painting I am definitely a diver. Maybe I need somewhere to have less filter and cognition.
Your latest collection of work, Other Wise, was launched as an online exhibition last November, is that something that you have done often, or was this influenced by the pandemic and social distancing measures?
I had been working on the Other Wise paintings in 2019, when I was pregnant with my second baby, and by mid-year 2020 I was contemplating how to present Other Wise as I had a small series coming together.
Despite our bubble in Perth it still felt a little too tentative and in flux to have a physical exhibition. Online exhibition wasn’t something I’d done before - although most of my everyday business and connections happen online via Instagram, emails, or my website. As galleries around the world were forced to move online, it was a good time to experiment.
There’s not a huge barrier anymore in terms of people’s willingness to collect art they haven’t seen in the flesh. The sacrifice is more to do with the excitement, energy, connection and integration of the work that an event and a display bring. Of course we have all missed those things over the past year.
Jordy wears geometric-print micropleat top and soft pleated navy trousers, both by Issey Miyake.
There is a noticeable shift in your work in 2015, from figurative to more abstract, gradients of colours. Was this a conscious change? And do you think you would ever incorporate the two?
I think an evolution in style was inevitable.
I was making this expressive, figurative work for five years, that had come from a base of life drawing – working quickly and boldly and being interested in energy, emotion and presence.
Towards the end of my Fine Art degree I starting using oil paint and discovered the reason it has such a history and reverence is because of its aliveness, sensuality and depth which really made sense for my work. I could see that a more minimal and formal aesthetic - colour and texture without the motif of the face or body - could speak more powerfully or essentially.
Jordy wears multicoloured cat coat by Song for the Mute.
Your exhibition, Life Outside, was produced after having your first child, Bo. Did your approach to work change after giving birth? Did you take some time away from painting?
I went back to work when Bo was about 8 months old. I was desperate to expend some creative energy, I felt pent up, and in a practical sense she was eating food so I could skip a breastfeed and get enough time away from her to achieve something. I worked pretty furiously and I made a lot of paintings.
The Life Outside series was a communication of my transformation, the physical and spiritual burst that came from bearing, birthing and caring for my first child, from creating a family and coming out into a new world. I was really keen to have that exhibition to feel like an artist and a person in the world again.
It was a process of just putting paint out on the palette and on the canvas and seeing it and thinking, “ugh that’s just overbearing, it’s repelling me.”
I’d mix more and more white in, and wax in, to make it paler and pearlier. I made the largest paintings and the most paintings I ever had for a show, but with the most minimal and delicate palette.
I imagine you need to be in a certain head space in order to paint. How do you manage that whilst now being a mother of two young girls? Do you have a structured routine?
My routine is very structured around family - I have very set work times and I don’t have a home studio, so the making side of things doesn’t overlap.
If I don’t feel like I can muster the love for it one day, there’s always plenty of admin and errands to get done. I believe in recouping and building up experiences that will drive energy and desire to make new work, but I also know that it’s not feasible to only paint when I feel “inspired”.
It’s consistency and practice, and sometimes just the resistance to starting that you have to get over.
Details: the jacquard check trousers and cat coat, both from Song for the Mute.
Do you have any daily rituals?
Time is so valuable when you are caring for young kids so most of my focus and sanity reserves go into getting them successfully to their respective places.
I enjoy listening to podcasts and binaural beats, meditation, visiting the gym, pilates, acupressure, singing and listening to music with the kids, going to the beach, working towards a more plant-based diet, gardening.
They’re just holistic things I do often - not necessarily everyday or at a specific time - to contribute to the bigger picture. And also to help sleep, which I’m trying to reset after five years of constant interruption!
As a new mother myself, about to have my second child, can you share any advice?
My midwife always said to barely get out of bed the whole first week, which I think is a reminder that you really need to be waited on. Try not get tricked by adrenaline and love hormones into thinking you’ve got energy to burn. Be a lot less capable in the company of support networks!
Jordy wears paint-stripe print top and matching trousers by Pleats Please Issey Miyake.
What is your approach to dressing? And do you think that fashion can be art?
I dress emotionally. I paint emotionally. It’s definitely an art. When I have more time and flexibility in life, less small people standing on my feet and screeching at me for snacks, I put more effort into feeling more like myself in my clothes. I know it significantly affects my whole day and the way I conduct myself.
Do you have any ideas for your next collection of work?
I am percolating. It’s not clear yet. But things change quickly.
I don’t usually have brain sparks that lead me forward - my husband is very much like that. I’m more of a do-er, a process person. Things unfold slower, through surrender to making. It fits in with a larger archetype in life for me about learning to push less, accepting the discomfort of not knowing -basically learning to be present and to trust in the wisdom of my sensitivity to produce things of value and meaning.
Jordy wears tulip-print micropleat top by Issey Miyake ME and wide pleated trousers by Pleats Please Issey Miyake.
See more of Jody's work on her website, or follow her instagram @jordy_hewitt.