Holly Keenan met with new artist in town, Jessica Oliver, to discuss her art and inspirations

Jessica Oliver is a talented young artist who has just moved back from London and bought her first house in St Audry’s Park, just outside Woodbridge. With her charismatic smile and bubbly personality, Jessica has already brightened up the neighborhood. We catch up with the artist to understand what has inspired her to return to her Suffolk roots.

Jessica and her (film director) boyfriend are indicative of the London exodus returning to the rural countryside areas as a result of Covid-19. Like many people, Jessica found herself in familiar grounds during the pandemic and moved back to Suffolk to be with her family. Not only has Suffolk provided the perfect place to be immersed in nature, but it has also added a new style to Jessica’s art. “Since I have been in Suffolk, I have just been painting skyscapes. The skies in Suffolk are insane, the light here is beautiful and it’s the perfect place for an artist to take in new inspiration.”

When I asked Jessica about what inspired her to become an artist, she said she had always harbored the dream of becoming a painter. After finishing A levels Jessica had planned to go to university to study Art/History but decided to take a different path. “I had felt unhappy about going to university and luckily I had supportive parents who said to me, ‘Why don’t you go abroad and study painting?’ A week after finishing my A levels I found myself in Florence, speaking Italian and studying classical art.

“The academy offered me something that my school had not, they gave me the base level that I needed. They taught me how to colour, how to draw, and how to use oils. Before going to Italy, I would go to museums and art galleries and think ‘wow I could never do something like that’. Now I was going to art galleries and seeing the artwork as something I could do.”

Returning to the UK, Jessica moved to London to complete her bachelor’s degree in fine art painting at City and Guilds of London Art School. Jessica went on to win the future British artist award and after winning this award Jessica was able to set up her art gallery in Cambridge. “I was selling one painting after another and then they were asking for more and more and I started to feel like I had landed myself on the fast track. However, I felt like there was so much more out there (particularly for landscape painting) that I wanted to discover. I did what any sensible artist would do when they’re literally about to blow up and I packed my bags, and I flew off to New Zealand. With long stretches of pristine coastline and drastically changing weather patterns, New Zealand was the perfect place to find new inspiration for seascapes.

“There is no ozone in that part of the world, so the blues were turquoise, and the greens were lime; it was like the universe had just upped the saturation on nature.” Through running a charity art exhibition called Camsite in both London and New Zealand Jessica was able to fund her travel lifestyle.

Asked about her style of painting Jessica said: “I try not to overwork my paintings and I am careful with my gestures. I try to be honest. Yet I am nowhere near where I want to be in terms of my art.”

When one of her friends asked why doesn’t she just take a photograph? She answered, “When taking a photograph, you have every bit of digital information that you need. You have every leaf, you have every blade of grass, every branch on the tree. However, when you’re painting, you’re making gestures about what you are moved by. Even if you have ten marks on a piece of paper, that one piece of paper will be far more valuable than that perfect digital photograph. The value of art is in the marks that you make, that take you back into the memory, and that is what makes art so spectacular.”

To find out more about Jessica and her stunning artworks visit: www.jessoliver.co.uk

The value of art is in the marks that you make

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