Conversations with the Makers

An array of questions to fibre/textile artists and their answers.

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Conversation with Jan Kierzkowski, Australia

Jan Kierzkowski is an Australian mixed- media artist who is drawn to the use of assemblage to express most of her current concepts, although she also enjoys working with  paint, clay, glass,cloth, book arts and jewellery making-whatever best expresses her ideas at the time.

She studied at Sydney College of the Arts and while raising her family has been involved in children’s and adult education, ran a leadlight studio with her husband, has worked as an artist in residence and teacher’s assistant at a primary school and enjoys exhibiting her work.

Jan helps students to find and embrace their creativity during her classes and workshops and  teaches them the value of rediscovering how to play to get the most out of their artistic expression.                              


Conversation with the Maker(CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist? 

Jan Kierzkowski (JK) Yes, I think so, it just took a bit of time to feel I had earned the label of "artist".


CWTM What was your first experience with making art? 

JK Many a mud pie decorated with sticks and flowers.

 Sawing doors and windows into cardboard boxes to make mansions for lizards and snails(who had their shells painted too-poor things).                                       


CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio? 

JK Yes, what was to be the garage on the plans of our house was quickly claimed by me as a studio.

But I have untidy creative habits and evidence of creating is in most rooms of the house-in the past the kitchen table was where it all happened-sewing, painting, jewellery-making, leadlighting!


    CWTM Can you describe a typical day?

JK Some common factors of the week would be-taking the last of the nestlings to school, faff around with house, meal and animal chores(not promising they always get done!)

Good intentions of doing projects in a systematic order, but inevitably become inspired by multiple things simultaneously- so work on a few creative projects, plan and prepare for creative classes for children and adults. Walk around among the trees outside if I need to think.                  


CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome? 

JK Yes, I hold a lot of importance to process-it’s the gestation period of a work, process holds so many moments of learning and experiencing that even the smallest nuance can add depth to a piece of art that becomes evident in the finished product. Process gives the work its authenticity.


 CWTM Do you agree that a small element of uncertainty about the finished look is what makes the process of creating so enticing? 

JK Yes, a degree of uncertainty is exciting-I would rather work this way than to have a rigid plan as I think it allows for an element of flexibility and enables the pushing of boundaries. Serendipity can flavour a piece of art beautifully.


 CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?

JK Hands- I like to get in and get dirty-it makes me feel connected to the piece -especially when a lot of my work has conceptual/psychological element. Found objects are my treasures- especially natural objects.

 CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous? 

JK I do really rough sketches when I start playing with a concept, experimenting with different ways I can express it, I usually involve words as well until I figure out what medium would best suit the essence of what I want to say. Then I just go into the creative flow and go with it - from there its mostly intuitive.


CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished? 

JK Again, intuition plays a strong part-all of a sudden something just "feels right", I then feel satisfied that it's finished.  Design and composition are always important to me so I'd rather walk away from a piece and come back with a fresh eye than forcing it which would usually result in overworking it.

 CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is… 

JK Nature-how amazing is nature's simplicity and complexity, shapes, colours, textures?!

Then I would have to say myth and psychology-as in archetypes etc.                     


CWTM Favourite quote? 

JK My father was an apprentice butcher for a while, back in the '40's where he was first told....

''Life is like a sausage.. there is a beginning and an end, and what's in the middle, you don't know until you come to it". That about sums it up.


CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking? 

JK Very late at night, when all is quiet.

(I think early mornings would be the same-that’s something I'm still aiming for).        


CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work? 

JK I love it when I feel I've brought a part of my deep inner world to the surface and explored a part of my psyche.I also love balancing and contrasting natural elements and found objects into some kind of cohesive2D or 3D  artwork. I am also mesmerised by colour.


 CWTM Best advice you’ve ever received? 

JK "Don't be stingy with the paint!"-Ms. Taran , my high school art teacher.

 CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received? 

JK -hmmm, I probably haven't realised it was bad advice yet!


 CWTM Best part of your day? 

JK Walking amongst the trees on my property and watching the moonrise.

Makes me feel hyper-creative.


CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner? 

JK Carl Jung, Frida Kahlo, Joseph Campbell, Roahlhd Dahl (he would bring lollies),Russell Brand ( antagonist) and Florence Welch (from Florence and the Machine)

Don't know what I'd give them to eat.


 CWTM What inspires your creativity? 

JK The diversity of cultures, history, the natural world, myth, archetypes, texture, colour, words, music. 

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art? 

JK I love how traditional techniques are being morphed with new technologies and experimentation that crosses past genres.

Rediscovering old ways of doing things combined with new ways of thinking.


 CWTM You’d be lost without…

JK rust, patina, sticks and stones, mystery and an enquiring mind.


CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?

JK Get out amongst nature , walk and write. 

 CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?

JK Chocolate!~ 


CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?

JK Yes, its much easier to take a decent photo! I like that you can document artistic practice on a blog or website and connecting with like-minded people is a lot easier. Research tools are fantastic too.


 CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?

JK Expressing a concept visually when you cant find words. I like physically hammering, cutting stitching , painting etc.-its very relaxing (mostly). Mixing new colours.


CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?

JK Yes, I think all forms of expression are just as valid as each other.  Concepts and techniques can be strengthened by access to high quality workshops , exhibitions and publications.


CWTM What is next for you?

JK More workshops, looking more seriously into publishing and back into exhibiting