Jen Mallinson NSW
What was the inspiration behind the piece that is a part of the SWELL Sculpture Festival 2021?
I had just started working with and investigating the forms and intricate patterns of brain corals when the opportunity to be a part of SWELL arose. It all seemed to come together at the right time and I’m really excited by the prospect of exhibiting one of my works on Currumbin Beach.
Do you follow a process or plan for each new piece or do you ‘wing it’?
There is definitely a process you need to follow when making organic forms with metal. I’m finding that the more I plan a piece and experiment in the early stages, the better the piece turns out. Usually, I make a small version in steel to get a better understanding of the form and see how the material reacts to my manipulation, then I can refine it further from this stage.
Would you describe your artistic journey as a slow burn or a wild ride?
I guess I would have to say it’s a slow burn although the unpredictability of the entire journey of making a living as an artist is a pretty wild ride!
Can you tell us a little bit more about how you became the artist that you are today?
Some time ago I had an experience that made me reevaluate my life and look at what the most important things in it were. My children and family were number one, then it was creating my sculptures. Ever since then, I’ve been totally focused on doing just that.
Describe your ideal environment where your creative juices flow?
I love being in nature, especially in the coastal national parks.
Is there an artist or body of work that you would consider your muse?
No not really. I consider the natural environment as my muse.
If you had to choose 3 words to describe your artistic style, what would they be?
Abstract, fluid, organic.
Beyond SWELL 2021, is there a forthcoming project you are most excited about?
Hmmm, well before COVID I was just about to be engaged to create a 20 metre high public sculpture in the UK to be installed in 2022, then it all went haywire!
I’ve just been short-listed to create another public sculpture in the Illawarra, NSW so I’m looking forward to that. Also, hopefully Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney will go ahead this year and I have a large piece to be installed on Tamarama Beach, so it will be really exciting to have my first sculpture exhibited in SxS.
What does exhibiting in SWELL 2021 mean to you?
I’ve visited SWELL twice before and it always had a great vibe. With a lively community situated on a beautiful coastline, this part of Queensland seems to be incredibly supportive of the arts. I feel very honoured to be a part of SWELL 2021 and I look forward to meeting and introducing my work to a whole new arts community.
Is there anything you do to continue developing as an artist? Would you describe yourself as self-taught or formally educated in your practice?
I studied ceramics, then graphic design. I worked as a designer for many years in Sydney then Europe and painted on the side. When my children were old enough for me to go to TAFE at night, I started a welding course which led to me engineering for heavy metal fabrication. I’m not exactly sure where my love for working with steel came from, but I’ve been doing it ever since. I love the physicality of the process and I think being a female and a graphic designer with an eye for detail, gives my work its unique quality.
If you were to go on a holiday, would you venture to the ocean or the mountains?
I love both the ocean and the mountains. I lived in Innsbruck Austria for 7 years and my partner was an extreme mountaineer, so I know mountains quite well.
I’ve spent most of my life living on the coast of NSW and I absolutely love diving into the ocean and feeling the healing power of the waves. On a holiday, I’d relax by the sea.
Gourmet restaurant or home-cooked meal?
I really enjoy good food. I’m definitely a cook, but it’s a real treat to go out to a great restaurant occasionally.
How would you describe your taste in music?
I have a pretty eclectic taste in music and listen to Spotify all day long. Depending on how I’m feeling, it’s often chill tracks, zen vibes, acoustic or 80’s.
Courtney Stephens is an emerging creative event producer based in Tweed Heads. After a successful career as a Practice Manager, her passion for the creative arts industry has led her to study a Bachelor of Business in Convention and Event Management. She hopes to balance her love for the arts, culture and nature with her strengths in communication and management to create community based events.