Jane Hosking's The Armadillo | Studio Spaces

Creative space: Jane Hosking sits on the steps of her art studio The Armadillo, named so because of its shape and Jane's interest in armadillos, and which features corten steel doors at the front.
Creative space: Jane Hosking sits on the steps of her art studio The Armadillo, named so because of its shape and Jane's interest in armadillos, and which features corten steel doors at the front.

The Studio Spaces project is a collaboration between the Manning River Times and the Manning Regional Art Gallery featuring artists from the Mid Coast region. The project culminates with in an art exhibition at the gallery in 2018. Learn more here.

Studio Spaces: Jane Hosking

“I’ve always had an obsession with decay,” Jane Hosking laughs.

Not that her art studio space is decaying by any means. Far from it.

But with the intentional use of recycled materials in its construction, the rustic appearance displays textures and patinas that she loves and also reflects her passion for repurposing (a common theme in her work).

The studio has been given the name The Armadillo for two reasons.

Visit other studios in our Studio Spaces series: Rod Spicer,  Andy Snelgar

“Because of the shape and I’ve always been fascinated with armadillos for some reason since I was a kid. They’re such weird looking animals,” she said.

Set on the seven acre property where Jane has lived with her partner Tim Jones, the main structure was finished around April 2017 after more than a year of planning and building.

“The main construction is steel. Mark Primmer from Nabiac did an amazing job with the steel.

“The doors are made of corten steel which is a very common sculpture material and sculptors love it because it rusts. 

“Then we’ve got a beautiful arch - the whole building is reminiscent of the old Nissen huts from the early 20th century.”

Jane, who is the assistant director of the Manning Regional Art Gallery in Taree, said they wanted to use a lot of recycled materials.

“All of the end walls are made of recycled windows that we bought from Gumtree or had in our possession anyway.

“It creates a really interesting dimension and they’re all different levels so it’s not just one flat pane of windows. On one end there is a little bit more order to the windows that looks a little bit more industrial.”

The back sliding doors came from their home, which had been replaced. Recycled plastic and railway sleepers have also been used.

“Tim did the rest, he’s done an amazing job. He put the plywood ceiling up himself, which is all riveted, he built the side wall and put the doors in and the windows. It was a mammoth job.”

Outside is a rainbow wall, which was made out of old decking.

“We replaced the decking on the house so there was all this hardwood decking left over and we thought how can we make it something interesting, so we painted each piece separately and we just used all these old paints I had in the shed from over the years. 

“Then I curated every single colour, which is a bit Virgo of me, but it had to be all in the right place. We’re really happy with how that turned out.”

The studio also includes a gantry, which had been a dream during the planning stage and fate stepped in to make a reality.

“The engineer working on the construction cottoned on and told us he had one out in the paddock we could have for cheap.

“It sort of ended up getting a life of its own,” said Jane.

The gantry goes from one end of the studio and out the front doors, meaning you can drive a ute up to it and hook whatever you need to move to the crane and pick it up and move it.

Jane is interested in both sculpture and sewing and has visually divided The Armadillo into two separate spaces.

The Armadillo is is reminiscent of the old Nissen huts from the early 20th century.

The Armadillo is is reminiscent of the old Nissen huts from the early 20th century.

“I can use half of it for sewing and creating things out of fabric, which needs to be a very clean environment and the other side is the sculpture side so I can be messy and dirty.”

Jane is enjoying having a dedicated space for her art after years of working in an old shed or in the house. “The shed is still full of stuff”.

She said one of the hazards of focusing on repurposing in her work is the accumulation of things she considers useful.

“I can see potential in any piece of rubbish so I end up with so much stuff because I think I might use it one day.”

Jane has been creating and making things from an early age.

“Ever since I could use a pair of scissors I’ve been making stuff and I’d be constantly saying to mum ‘Mum, I want to make something!’ and she would tell me to do it then.

“She taught me to sew when I was a kid and I’d work with dad in the woodwork shop, so I’ve always been making something but I’ve never concentrated on one thing really.”

Jane Hosking has been sewing from a young age and makes clothes and bags.

Jane Hosking has been sewing from a young age and makes clothes and bags.

She studied a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts at the University of Newcastle and then went on to do a Masters of Letters at University of New England.

“I’ve done various other things as well including fashion design, welding and bits and pieces here and there.”

She sees creativity as something intrinsic in people.

“I think everybody’s pretty well got an element of creativity but so many people just deny that they do because they haven’t had any experience.

“I think if children are exposed from an early age it makes them much more comfortable with creativity and exploring creativity in not just an artistic or creative life but within the whole of life in an holistic way.”

When it comes to her work, whether sculptures and sewing, Jane said she likes the challenge of either making something out of materials that will otherwise go to waste, or repurposing it. 

Jane Hosking with the Armadillo's carefully curated rainbow wall.

Jane Hosking with the Armadillo's carefully curated rainbow wall.

“I’ve always had an obsession with waste. I just can’t handle waste”.

“I make clothes and bags and I go through phases with my work. I’ll do sewing for months and then I’ll do something else for months.”

Jane likes to try lots of new things when creating her sculptures.

“I still keep with the repurposing aspect. 

“I use a lot of paper pulp – that’s what most of my sculptures are made of.

“It won’t end up being entirely environmentally friendly though because I’ll encase it in fibreglass which is quite toxic, so I’m not a purist.”

A lot of her work is either an environmental comment or humorous and her sculpture toolkit includes a drill press for drilling holes into small objects, a vice grip, a little portable welder, bits of wire and things to make armatures (the frame of the sculpture usually made out of steel or some kind of metal), things to make maquettes (a smaller version of what the final sculpture will be), little containers with nails and screws, a bandsaw and an air compressor.