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Skye Jefferys · Upwelling


22nd August, 2013
Lucy Feagins
Thursday 22nd August 2013

Painting by Canberra-based artist Skye Jefferys, in her home studio.  Photo - Peta Rudd.

Work in progress by Skye Jefferys.  Photo - Peta Rudd.

Studio details.  Photo - Peta Rudd.

Skye Jefferys in her home studio (8 months pregnant and staging her first solo show in Canberra next weekl!)  Photo - Peta Rudd.

Many moons ago I knew this clever girl (a friend of a friend) called Skye Jefferys - a thoughtful, super talented young creative, who always seemed a little lost in her 'real job', which was in graphic design at that time.  Though she spent her twenties making beautiful design work for some pretty high profile employers, I always had a sense she wasn't quite where she wanted to be.

Fast forward more years than I care to count (...that decade really flew by!) and it seems Skye has finally found her calling.  Following her partner's career from Melbourne to Canberra 18 months ago has given Skye the breathing space she needed to simply paint.  The results speak for themselves... such seriously beautiful work!  I cannot get enough of the intense colour palette she's working with here - the vivid blue is so incredible, it feels full of excitement and buzzing energy.

With her first solo exhibition, Upwelling, opening in Canberra next week, we asked Skye a little about this body of work -

Can you very briefly tell us a little bit about yourself?

I wish I could say I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but the truth is – it was not until started studying Visual Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2010 that I really felt I’d found what I was meant to be doing. I’ve always skirted around the edges of art, and after graduating from Monash University with a degree in Visual Communication I worked in a range of graphic design roles, but always dabbled in painting, block printing, screen printing and collage, etc.

In a way, I felt intimidated by the art world. Giving myself permission to simply paint, experiment with materials and explore mediums and ideas without having to please a client opened up a new world of possibilities, and it all just made sense. Over the past two years I have been exclusively painting.

Can you briefly tell us what inspired this exhibition?

Upwelling is my first solo show. I was inspired to exhibit because I felt the time was right. I have been painting and experimenting for years now, keeping my work to myself, but I reached a point where I was happy and excited with what I was producing and thought it was time to put it out there in a public space. In this body of work I am exploring the quiet pleasure of mark-making. My process is really quite organic, embracing uncertainty and spontaneity. I begin with loose brush-strokes, slowly building layer upon layer until I can find a harmonious balance of form and colour. As one layer is consumed by the next, I refine the space, trying to map some clarity in the noise.

What influences your style of work and how would you describe your aesthetic?

If I had to describe my aesthetic it would be gestural, tumultuous and chaotic.

Colour is an important part of my practice, and I work on multiple canvases at once, transitioning colours from one to the other, so they are all linked in that respect.  I aim to create works that the viewer feels transfixed by - the more the viewer looks, the more they see, not just of the painting itself, but of their own inner world. So they are sometimes quite dark, sometimes joyful and some swing between the two.

The colour palette I am working with is bordering on obsession.  I cannot not use blue!  I often use images of the ocean as a reference tool, even though the finished works are quite abstract.  Meandering lines hint at form, but never quite resolve themselves.

Upwelling by Skye Jefferys
Open from Friday 30 August until 8 September
Canberra Contemporary Artspace
19 Furneaux St
Manuka, ACT

Exhibition opening next Thursday August 29th, from 6.00 - 8.00pm.

Painting by Canberra-based artist Skye Jefferys. Photo - Peta Rudd.

Skye at work.  Photo - Peta Rudd.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email