In Conversation.

Jedda Daisy Culley

“I just make the work, the work just comes out. I don’t necessarily filter [it], I filter the context in which I’m going to let you view the work.”
Multidisciplinary artist Jedda-Daisy Culley remembers vividly the first time she knew she wanted to paint. Thanks in part to her creative lineage (her father, Stephen Culley, co-founded Desert Designs with Indigenous artist Jimmy Pike) hers was a childhood spent surrounded by creative minds and exposed to many forms of imaginative expression. She recalls the first time she laid eyes on a painting by Willem De Kooning, “I was completely blown away, mostly by the way it made me feel,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to do that. I wanted to create physical objects or express ideas that would have an immense power of making people feel different things.”
With a practice tied to the natural world, it was the motherhood that brought Culley’s vision full circle. “I always felt deeply connected to landscape and this bigger idea of motherhood, but I never knew it until I had a child, and I could really see that,” she tells. Her 2018 exhibition, Burns At The Land’s Brim, saw desert topographies depicted as feminine, with innate power to create and transform – while 2019’s Printers and Portals includes virtual reality piece Landscape Painting in which Culley applies brushstrokes to her own form, simultaneously becoming one with her surrounds. “I understand landscape and the female figure to be so closely related that they are one and the same,” she explains. “I believe that if we could manage to shift our thinking about landscape [and] treat our landscape like how we should treat our women, then we could fix not only our social problems but also our larger problems with the world. Because no mother or lover or friend should be disregarded or hurt or treated in a negative way, and that’s what we’re doing to our planet.”

“I think that’s how you get over your self-doubt, by seeing the bigger picture.”

What do you love most about being an artist?

Having a language, like my own language, that I can express my ideas and feeling in my own words and my own styles.

Do you come into the studio every day, or are you somebody who waits until inspiration strikes to create?

I have kids so the luxury of coming in everyday isn’t a reality, but I would say that I like to think about my work every day. I like to try and do a drawing everyday, but I also prefer to work when that feeling to work has come. I’m also lucky enough to be married to a guy who is also an artist, so if you say to that person, ‘I really need to go to the studio now, it really feels like the time is now,’ then they understand.

What draw you to this particular studio?
The light. It’s just perfect light.

Who are some artists that inspire your creative vision?

Definitely the Woman series by De Kooning, I find them really inspiring. I don’t necessarily know if I like them, but I love them … There’s something about them that moves something in me … I have also forever loved Louise Bourgeois. I feel like everyone does but you’ve got to say it if you do. I [also] like Sonia Delaunay.

Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve made?

They go through phases. These most recent watercolours that I’ve done are pretty emotional for me, they came from a dark place. I guess at the time I started making them was a dark place and it moved to a very positive, very light space, and they map that journey. They map a total transformation, and this sounds so cliché but I realised that magic was real … I saw how beautiful things always are, the potential in a sad moment.

Do you ever get self-doubt in your work and, if so, how do you overcome it?

Yeah ... It’s a combination of courage … and feeling the pressures of judgement, and just being like, ‘who cares, just do it, move on, grow’ … Looking back on your career as an artist and seeing that your mistakes actually are just stepping stones to make more work, better work, work that you understand – I think that’s how you get over your self-doubt, by seeing the bigger picture.

How does your artistic temperament impact the way you dress?

Right now I’m wearing jeans and a T-shirt, which is pretty standard for my style but … usually I wear a lot of colour. I’ll want to wear a really chill outfit one day and then I leave my house looking like a total rainbow, and I’m like, ‘what happened?’

In regards to your most recent exhibition, Printers and Portals, is there anything you hope people take away from the works?

It’s always nice when you express a feeling or a time you went through that sucked or whatever and you can help someone else. That’s always beautiful.