Artist’s China debut

By Will Astbury

Jessica Longmore

BREATHE: Jessica will be spending six weeks in Chongqing, China

A MANCHESTER artist has been chosen to take part in a six-week residency in China.

Jessica Longmore was picked to take part in 2010s Breathe program in the Chinese city of Chongqing by Manchester’s Chinese Arts Centre.

Working from Chongqing’s 501 Art Space, Jessica will be embarking on her ‘Objects for a Studio’ project which she has already worked on in Holland and Manchester.

For the Objects project Jessica, from Chorlton, spends a day in an artist’s studio examining its “unique character” and then creates a sculpture based on what she has learnt in that day.

“A studio can be an artist’s haven but it can be like a cell at times,” Jessica, 30, told Manchester Mouth.

“So I thought if I spend one day in somebody else’s space it could provoke something different in my art. The work varies so much depending on whose studio I’m in.”

Jessica first thought-up the Objects for a Studio project in 2007 while sharing a studio with fellow artist Sarah Sanders when she realised their work had begun to influence each other. Sarah’s work consisted of delicate paintings and Jessica was always concerned her bulky sculptures would fall and damage her friend’s work. So she had to consider different factors when creating pieces.

They then divided the studio and both artists started to enjoy working in each other’s unique spaces as it provoked new ideas, so the project was born.

It was first performed in Manchester and then in the Kunstenaarslogies gallery in the city of Amersfoort in Holland and now will be going to China.

David Hancock, residency coordinator at the Chinese Art’s Centre, explained why Jessica was chosen to go over Chongqing, saying: “Jessica submitted a fantastic proposal and the quality of her work is excellent. She was selected because the project she aimed to undertake seemed really interesting and we felt that her making work from objects found around the studios of the artists at 501 would enable them to consider their own practices and methods of working, providing a stimulating dialogue between Jessica and artists in Chongqing.

“Her practice is considered and challenging and we felt that it would be extremely beneficial to the artists at 501 to have an artist like Jessica introduced to them and we were excited by the potential outcome.”

Jessica has adapted the project for her trip to China. She originally worked with 10 artists in both Manchester and Amersfoort but will only be working with five in Chongqing.

“I want to move the project on a little bit in China, so I’m going to spend the first week in a different artist’s studio each day and then I’m going to spend five weeks in my own space creating sculptures that represent what I learnt in each studio,” explained Jessica.

When asked if she expected there to be strong cultural differences between artists in China and those in Britain and Holland Jessica said she thought there would.

“There will definitely be cultural differences. There were between the Dutch artists and the ones I worked with in Manchester. In Holland the studios were 20 times larger than here in Britain and they seemed to have a more open approach to art,” said Jessica.

“I don’t know what to expect in China but I’m going to learn some Mandarin before I go so hopefully that will give me an insight.”

Language barriers aren’t a problem in Objects for a Studio as Jessica prefers to study the psychology of an artist’s space rather than interviewing the artist themselves, but it’s still a tough project to undertake.

“It can be quite a stressful project to do because I’ve only got a limited amount of time but it can have some interesting results,” said Jessica.

Seven other artists will taking part in residencies at the 501 Art Space alongside Jessica throughout 2010.

“As the focus of Chinese Arts Centre is artists of Chinese descent we don’t often to get to work with artists who fall outside that whom we admire, so this residency is an ideal opportunity,” said David.

“Jessica makes exciting work and we look forward to working with her.

“She has a great deal of potential and we hope the residency opportunity will help her go some way to achieving this.”

To see more of Jessica’s work visit www.jessicalongmore.com

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