In conversation – Juliet Bankes and Lisa Bates
Associate Q&A’s with Juliet Bankes
I live near Banbury North Oxfordshire. Five years ago I graduated from Camberwell College of Arts with a
Masters in Fine Art Printmaking and then went on to join the OVADA Warehouse Art School (WAS) for three years
on their ‘continuing practice’ course.
What am I currently working on?
Although, sometimes, I don’t know what my work is about there is a strong theme running through my practice about ‘outsideness’. I have strong childhood memories of always being outside on the farm, just being, with my siblings and for the most part without much adult supervision. Currently my work explores ideas of transformation, connection and the intersection between photography and print through place. My work begins with a physical connection to the landscape and the embodied experience of outsideness. As I walk, very familiar landscapes start to reveal fragments of memories, like small islands and veiled layers and I am taken back through time. My camera records the moment and my body experiences the sights, smells, sounds and darkness of place.
Durng the COVID-19 pandemic, I realise more and more how important walkiing or outsideness is for health, both mental and physical and observe how much more is being boradcast and written about being out there in the landscape. My walks sometimes take the the shape of small pilgrimmages and I am making a series of small shrine-like objects in order to connect with other travellers, to stop, observe and wonder about.
Where I work
I work in a small room above the boiler, it is light and warm. I have a small etching press which shares its space with the boiler, washing machine etc. But mostly I like to work outside.
Being a Fellow in residence at University of Northampton in their Fine Art Department I work in their wonderful print room, which is a joy, and very well equipped. I take workshops and help students on a regular basis.
How does your OVADA Associate membership benefit you?
OVADA has an Associate scheme which I joined when I was on the WAS course and have found their workshops, exhibition and events thought provoking, inspiring and very varied. The physical space itself is so unusual and has a creative aura about it.
What are you hoping to achieve over the next year?
At present the future is hard to predict, having said that I belong to a group and we are planning a publicly engaging creative body of work using an empty shop in Banbury. Our body of work will respond to the site, to Banbury, and/or parts of the river Cherwell that connect Banbury and other members of the group, onto Oxford and then Henley.
Tell us a little bit about the work of an artist or arts organisation/ collective that you find inspiring
W G Sebald has been a consistent inspiration. His work The Rings of Saturn is a place I return to time and time again. He connects place to memory in a very oblique way. The Collective I find inspiring is Assemble, a group who make publicly engaging work for communities.
Describe the last time you felt inspired
Recently I was walking on Bodmin Moor where I cam across a stone circle, fairly incomplete and the experience was pretty awesome.
What is your opinion of the current art scene in Oxford?
Living near Banbury makes it difficult to comment on the art scene in Oxford. I have always enjoyed the events at OVADA as well as The Old Fire Station, MAO, Ashmolean etc. I have a real sense of expedition if I attend any exhibition or private views. For the size of the city however, I feel there could be more galleries.
How do you feel the arts benefit society?
How do I feel the arts benefit society? Well of course, creating art relieves stress, encourages creative thinking, increases brain plasticity, and imparts other mental health benefits. As importantly, it gives a voice and a visual language to many cultures and encourages people to think more openly and differently about social and political issues.