Jessica Brent began her career from an initial point of curiosity through to an intersection of architecture, graphic design and photography. A founding principal of interdisciplinary collective Sibling, this intersection is celebrated through her involvement in various design and research-led projects, while simultaneously her personal photography openly bears the cipher of her diverse learning.
Yes, I studied architecture for 3 years and then I studied graphic design for 3 years.
I was always interested in graphic design, but somehow I ended up doing architecture first, which I really enjoyed, and is how I met everyone at Sibling. But I found that I preferred things on a smaller scale, a bit more tangible and immediate, rather than the years that could be spent on a build...
I got into photography when I was on exchange in Sweden, while still studying graphic design. A lot of my friends there were photographers. Just before I went I bought a point and shoot camera, and I took a heap of photos. From there it was a natural evolution. Which is how I met Dianna - I am interested in architectural photography and I got in touch to assist her. I am going along to a shoot next week to observe at first- I think she is trying to convince me to not do architectural photography...
I like taking pictures of everyday life. Activities or events, unstaged scenes or still life. I am really interested in how things are naturally, like people, nature, and food! I feel that architecture often facilitates or creates the environment for these instances.
Only really this year. I've done a photo essay for Assemble Papers. I did a record cover for a friend of mine in Superstar, a local Melbourne band - we did a shoot at Hanging Rock. A photo essay for Architecture Australia. I did work on a PAM x Crumpler collaboration a few months ago, which was a lot of fun. But it has been people asking if I was interested, instead of me deciding it was what I wanted to do. But I have really enjoyed it, so I think I have made the transition.
Sibling has been around for years. Maybe 6, informally. There are 8 of us and we're all good friends. We're practically family. We all went to Melbourne Uni, except for one. We had a space in Mitchell House and were there all the time, working, eating and sometimes sleeping! We were learning together and from each other and I think this is when we really developed our shared sensibilities. We started by working on small projects together, just little gallery things like responses or installations. The last couple of years we have done more architectural projects, like fit-outs, and this year we decided to take it all more seriously and make it a business. It's mostly architecture based, but there are also graphic design and research-based projects.
Recently we have worked on a cafe in Caulfield called Mr. Brightside. Nick was the architect and I was working on the identity and interior. The location was quite a corporate building, it was an average shell to work with, but there was a park across the road. We decided to turn the space into something like a log cabin or a cave, looking outside, where the cafe can also supply blankets and picnic baskets so people can cross the road and enjoy the park. We also did a project for fashion label Pageant, who are good friends of ours, for a show called Melodies In The Air. They asked us to construct a chair, although the brief was pretty loose, so we made a throne. Their references were quite decadent yet tough, with images of Faberge eggs, giant ice-creams, crowns, babes and rubber tires! We made more of a living structure, the kind of place a Pageant Guy could inhabit.
I started by constructing a personality from the references and thinking about what type of activities this character would do to give context to what kind of chair he would use. I imagined him drinking champagne, listening to hip-hop, wearing obnoxious hats, eating cup cakes, posing, sleeping... The idea evolved into a day in the life of this character, and pimping the chair out to facilitate his activities. The parts of the chair were designed to be rotated and reconfigured to accommodate different situations. The idea of a throne evolved from the idea of this Pageant Guy being king of his own universe.
Condiment was a project that I worked on with Chris Barton. It started out as a conversation between us and our friends about everyday life with food as the common theme.
Food is something I've always had a close relationship with. I love eating and talking about food but I also love the scenarios in which you eat food and the rituals involved in preparing, presenting and eating a meal. I also have numerous allergies and dietary restrictions which have made me super aware of the exact ingredients contained in any type of food. I feel this awareness has really developed my interest in food and not being able to eat certain things makes me appreciate what I can eat even more. In my photography I'm interested in the way we experience food in everyday life. Having a friend cook for you, setting a table, eating food in a park... these moments can be really intimate and beautiful and I find the details really interesting.
I guess Condiment approached food in a similar way. Looking at intimate details of everyday life through food. The main difference would be that Condiment was a conversation between us and the contributors about their musings, while my photography is a reflection of my personal perspective on the world.
Yeah, for sure. Condiment held an exhibition called Tenderfoot at Mr Kitly. It was a collection of photographs that explored the experience of food in nature. We had photographers from Japan, Australia, US and Canada and the photographs were taken all over the world. We worked with Ryan from United Measures to frame the photographs so that the spline details in the frames were made from wood sourced from the region that each photograph was taken in. We didn't want the exhibition to be confined to the gallery walls so we worked with ffiXXed to bring the spirit of the exhibition into the space. We created a cork rug that had holders integrated into it which held native Australian plants and also camping snacks, like marshmallows, chocolate & pistachios. It was nice to have nature brought into the exhibition space and to have our friends viewing the exhibition while nibbling on camping snacks and drinking wine out of ceramic camping mugs.
I feel my spatial projects have quite graphic elements to them, using pattern and colour. I feel a strong sense of space and architecture comes through in my photography. In graphic design projects I'm interested in how the outcomes exist in the real word, and how people may interact with them. I think what underlies all of my practice is an interest in the social outcomes of design, and bettering the experience of living with thoughtful, meaningful and beautiful outcomes.
Friends, food, buildings, books, nature and photos of how I see them.
Photographs property of Jessica Brent, except 10-13 and 27-31 by Double Days.
The referrals began with Leah Jackson who referred Stephanie Downey who referred Chris Hill who referred Jonathan Wallace who referred Dominic Hofstede, who referred Paul Fuog, who referred Ben Edwards and Juliet Moore, who referred Ryan Russel and Byron George, who referred Dianna Snape, who finished the stream with Jessica Brent. We also introduced Matt Hinkley who referred Warren Taylor who referred Yanni Florence, who referred Liv Barrett, who referred Fayen d'Evie, who referred Masato Takasaka, who referred Madeline Kidd, who referred Meredith Turnbull, who referred Nella Themelios.
In May 2012, we began a new Melbourne stream with Oslo Davis. He then referred Alexander Stitt, who referred Mimmo Cozzolino, who referred Fysh Rutherford, who referred Simon and Jenna Hipgrave.
In March 2012, we went to Austin for SXSW, where the daily referrals began with Sonnenzimmer who referred Landland and Hometapes who referred Zorch, who referred Brian Maclaskey, who referred Bobby Dixon, who referred Brian Phillips, who, through some auspicious coincidence, turned the SXSW referral interview project into a perfect circle, by referring us back to Sonnenzimmer. Then there was a giveaway to celebrate.