Jennifer Turpin highlights the plight of the environment through her work
Jennifer Turpin offers advice to emerging artists wanting to break into the industry and insights into applying to the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize.
You are an environmental artist, creating work that looks at natural elements like wind and water. Why are you passionate about creating work about the environment?
We are at a time in world history, more than ever now, that humans need to accept we are part of nature. We do not have dominion over it. Many cultures, particularly western societies, have behaved with dominance for centuries, blind to the wider impact of actions that ignore deep earth knowledge. Most Indigenous cultures have a far more sophisticated understanding of the complex biological and ecological interconnections that underpin all life on earth.
I am passionate about creating artworks and art events that seek to connect people to their environments. To the elemental energies of nature around them – to reawaken knowledge of simple phenomenon we may have taken for granted, such as the rise and fall of the tide. The intricacies of wind, the flows and surface tension of water; to inspire wonder in the beauty of nature’s complex systems such as biodiversity in the ocean and to make invisible natural processes more visible to a wide audience. Felt connection and love of our natural world is vital in learning to respect, care for, and to protect our environment.
You own Turpin Crawford Studio with artist Michaelie Crawford. Can you tell us how this collaboration came about?
Michaelie and I have worked together for 25 years and share a common interest in working within the public domain on both temporary and permanent art projects with the aim to reconnect people with nature, in place, and with community.
We have worked on both temporary and permanent art projects in public places over the years. We are committed to expanding the potential of public art and cultural practice through our collaborative work scientists, engineers, other artists and design professionals, academics, communities, local government and developers.
We believe that artists are agents of change and can make valuable contributions to civic thinking and planning. With our experience as artists and art strategists, we often work on multidisciplinary teams on urban renewal projects – many of them environmental restoration projects. We aspire to facilitate inclusive, sustainable and innovative change for communities in today’s increasingly complex and urbanised world.
You are a patron and judge of the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize. Why do you think this is an important prize?
It gives female artists the opportunity to increase the professional nature of their practice. In our society, unfortunately, art practice is generally undervalued. This generous prize boosts societal attention on art practice as a valued occupation, and it offers female artists more time to focus on their work. Prizes such as this can provide an important reassurance and recognition they are on the right path and give necessary practical financial help.
What would you say to someone thinking about applying this year?
Be true to yourself and your art to create work that is a continuation of your existing practice. Be brave and enjoy the process of focusing on what means the most to you.
Be sure to photograph your work in a professional way for the submission so it comes across in its best light.
What advice would you give emerging artists wanting to break into the sector?
Find a path that is meaningful for you and pursue it without delay. Art is the soul and sometimes the conscience of society and without its poetics our world is a diminished place. We need you to keep developing, honing your skills, and taking every opportunity to keep working as an artist.