Robbins + Roberts Present

Jessie James at SVA

Much of the whisperings I encountered about this exhibition was very “I dont get it” and rather “I like it but I don’t know why”. So I was excited to attend a talk with graduate Jessie James to hear her ideas behind this exhibition at SVA, hosted by renowned creative duo Robbins + Roberts.
Personally I welcome shows which give me the excited feeling of being in a fairground, with nothing but materials and colour as their weaponry. And I’m not scared to like an artwork which I am unable to quantify. “Because I like it” is a BIG no-no at art school. Students are left in no uncertain terms that this attitude is for polite sewing circles- not for serious, boundary-breaking artists in the making.

Jessie explained that her work originated from a reaction to being in the educational environment and her relationship with her tutors. Jessie’s response was to rebel against this and make decisions based on instinct and material availability. Using fluro orange because she’s “really in to that at the moment” and painted grey paper because she couldn’t find any in the shops, Jessie has maintained a refreshingly pure, uncomplicated approach to her work.

The show consists of woven paper walls, strange bright revolving carpets, delicious tactile orange fringing and a pink-tinted screening of swaying fibres. I wanted to run my fingers through the wool and investigate the small creature-like carpets! There’s a certain deliberately imperfect finish to the work and a feeling of the experience being consistently verging on vulgar. The colours are bright and happy- but perhaps slightly off key. The fringing is tactile and moorish- but also trimmed ragged. The experience is overwhelming delight to the point of discomfiting excess.


Jessie James is an artist hot off the press; fresh out of art school and already a few cool gigs under her belt; this residency is the latest in a string of exciting projects. She seems unfazed by the tasks she has already faced and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. The show is still on at the SVA so definitely check it out if you can, visit Jessie’s website here to see more of her portfolio and be sure to follow the workings of Robbins and Roberts for upcoming shows this year.

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