Over the next couple of months we will be interviewing each of the expert judges for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2021. This week, we introduce watercolour artist Juliette Losq as a member of our panel, who in addition to selecting for the shortlist, will judge the winner of the newly added Outstanding Watercolour Award. Juliette, who is a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, has also been the recipient of multiple awards including the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2005 and the John Ruskin Prize in 2019. Here, she shares her latest studio practices and tells us what she will be looking for in the entries to the competition this year.
Above image: Proscenium, 2018, Juliette Losq, Ink and watercolour on paper, 200 x 280 x 200 cm
Clare: Can you tell us about your practice? Where does a work begin for you and can you describe your process?
Juliette: At the moment I am making a series of works based on maquettes inspired by eighteenth and nineteenth century optical devices. The process begins with documenting a site photographically from multiple angles, reconfiguring and reimagining this as a small, layered paper model (a bit like a toy theatre or paper peepshow), and then making a series of drawings and paintings from this model. The model allows me to make several pieces of work, working from it at different distances and from different angles, placing the viewer within or outside of the space created.
Clare: What informs your decision to work with ink and watercolour or oil?
Juliette: I have phases where I like to work in each medium, however, I use watercolour on paper for the majority of my work. At the moment I am making immersive, large-scale installations based on the landscape maquettes I mentioned earlier. Watercolour on paper is the better medium for this as they can be constructed in sections, installed and then collapsed and rolled up for storage. When working in both oils and watercolour I build the image up in layers and washes, or gazes in the case of oils. The underlying image is reliant upon a range of marks of different tones to hold it together. So the paintings and drawings definitely look like they belong to the same body of work regardless of medium.
Clare: Can you tell us about your landscapes? Are they places you have visited or are they real places blended with fiction? What draws you to these places?
Juliette: The landscapes are based on real places – semi-derelict boat yards along the Thames where I have occupied studios, post industrial sites of ruination, or areas at the sides of motorways, canals and railways that I have discovered on walks. Through the process of reimagining and recreating them as these paper models they become fictional, but the basis is in reality. I’m drawn to places that are overlooked, that embody a sense of history that is beyond our reach, forcing us to project imagined histories on to them.
Clare: What is your most important artist tool? Do you have any favourites?
Juliette: My favourite is a giant rubber that I have that is used for cleaning belt sander discs. It has saved me so much time and effort over the years when removing drawing marks and resist from my large scale works.
Clare: How important do you think awards and competitions are for artists today?
Juliette: At the moment I would say they are vital. I’ve noticed many more artists entering competitions that they may not normally, perhaps due to the uncertainty of the commercial art world at the moment. Competitions can be entered online from the home or studio. In some cases they have been moved from physical to virtual exhibitions. Gallery shows, on the other hand, have been cancelled or postponed, with many galleries going under. In a sense it is vital for artists to promote their work themselves in whatever ways they can, and open exhibitions and competitions allow them to do this.
Clare: What will you be looking for when you select the Outstanding Watercolour Award?
Juliette: An understanding of the innate qualities of the medium. An ability to use these qualities with a high level of skill or, perhaps, to challenge them. Or, a practice that pushes the boundaries of the traditional associations of watercolour in terms of either technique or subject matter.
Clare: And what will you be looking for in the entries submitted to the overall competition?
Juliette: Originality – that someone has found their own voice in whatever medium they have chosen to use, rather than being heavily influenced by others’ practices.
Clare: Do you have any advice for artists out there thinking about entering Jackson’s Painting Prize this year?
Juliette: Just to enter work that they are fully invested in, and that they consider to genuinely represent their current practice.
Clare: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
Juliette: I’m working on an immersive, walkthrough watercolour installation to be displayed at Sewerby Hall in Yorkshire next March. It’s an Arts Council-funded commission that is intended to engage visitors with contemporary art practices. It’s based on the structure of a paper peepshow combined with a pergola in the grounds of Sewerby Hall. The drawn imagery on the installation will represent the Hall and Gardens at an imagined future stage of ruination. I will have a solo show of wall-based works to accompany it. I also have planned exhibitions at the Cello Factory and the Garden Museum, both featuring installations.
Submissions for Jackson’s Painting Prize 2021 will open on Tuesday 1st of December, 2020. Find out everything you need to know at our competition website and sign up to our competition newsletter and receive the latest updates about Jackson’s Painting Prize.