It is always a pleasure to visit the Helpmann Academy Graduate Exhibition. All of the participants have been selected by a panel as examples of success in their chosen media. The graduates in this exhibition studied at one of the three major Art Schools in South Australia; Adelaide Central School of Art, Adelaide College of the arts and The school of Art, Architecture and Design. This exhibition is also part of the Fringe Festival in Adelaide and further details about it are listed in the Fringe guide.
Jamine Dixon is a graduate of the Adelaide College of the Arts. Her beautiful portraits are stunning representations that carry with them a wealth of depth. She also won the Peter Walker Award on opening night.
I was immediately drawn to her stellar theme as well as her great technique. For her this theme was inspired by a visit to the National Museum of Australia where she read the words of Warren Paulson, a Mununtjali elder who said “We all sleep under the same sky filled with stars older that us.”
In the Helpmann are three paintings from the original series of 5. They are titled “Under the southern sky” and feature subjects with various cultural backgrounds.
All of the portraits depict a person wearing a singlet that melds into the background night sky. Filled with a multitude of stars (taken from star charts from the Sydney observatory). The stars form constellations that have been stitched together with thread. To link the subjects further with Australia, Jasmine selected stars to be studded with Australia’s national gem the opal.
Each person is within a dark circle, also reflective of the night sky but furthermore symbolic of all inclusive cosmic unity. Circles trigger in our minds contemplation. When one gazes up at the Southern Sky it is not difficult to feel insignificant in comparison to its infinite nature. We as humans in comparison are finite and fragile and I think that this is what Jasmine has captured beautifully in her work.
I was able to ask Jasmine a few questions about her paintings.
What is your background where did you grow up?
Don’t know much about my family tree beyond my grandparents and I grew up in the quiet suburbs of Tea Tree Gully.
What is it about portraiture that fascinates you?
Painting people is such a challenge and it’s a process that I never stop learning from. I love the shifts of tone and temperature that occur in skin and how by using the correct combination of colours you can bring a flat image of someone to life.
What themes do you enjoy?
I am drawn to themes relating to the human condition, its hard not to be as a portrait artist. This body of work was inspired by the ‘Dark Heart’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia last year. I walked away from that exhibit wanting to create work that celebrates this country too, and it made sense to me to do it through its people.
How long does it take on average to complete a portrait?
It’s hard to say, some take longer than others. The collection ‘Under the Southern Sky’ consists of 5 paintings which took just over 4 months, however I was also working and studying part time.
What would be your dream project in the future?
Right now the most exciting project would be have a solo exhibition. Its not something I have lined up yet but I am hoping that it will be something I can do at end of this year or early next year.
Who are the people in your portraits at the Helpmann?
The people that are in the paintings include the artist Damien Shen, who is an artist that I met early last year in a painting workshop that we both attended. His work is amazing too. Andi, who is the blonde girl, I met through a friend- she is a personal trainer. Lastly, is Nantale. I met her through Adelaide College of the Arts, which she attended for a bit but has now gone into midwifery. I like to know each of my subjects so that I know how to best portray them in a painting.