Studio Spaces - Jana Pearceova

Work space: Jana Pearceova sorts her collections and materials into transparent containers so she can access what she needs easily. Photos: Scott Calvin.
Work space: Jana Pearceova sorts her collections and materials into transparent containers so she can access what she needs easily. Photos: Scott Calvin.

Studio Spaces is a collaboration between the Manning River Times and the Manning Regional Art Gallery featuring artists from the Mid North Coast region. It has culminated in an exhibition, Studio Spaces of the Mid North Coast, showing at the Manning Regional Art Gallery from April 4 to May 13, 2018. Go inside the Studio Spaces of Mid North Coast artists.

LIFE and work blend beautifully for Jana Pearceova, and that’s the way she likes it.

“It overlaps, there are no boundaries anymore.

“We use this as a studio but we have a room at the back of the property and we go to bed there, but literally the day happens around here.

“What I appreciate about having a studio and living space in such a close proximity is the immediacy of the access and that I can start working whenever I want to and then I can leave the space, leaving everything as it was to continue the process as I find it.”

Jana works across a range of mediums from drawing to printmaking, painting and textiles, sculptural objects and mixed media compositions.

The Green Point location, which she shares with her husband and fellow artist Gerard, is the 10th studio space for the Slovakian-born artist.

The couple first moved in and started using the space in 2017.

“We had an exhibition in the January and then it became available, so we made contact with the owner and we started to work here in March,” said Jana.

They first saw the space four years earlier when Jana had an exhibition with another artist as part of the TAFE course she was doing.

“We saw its immediate potential.

“It suits the natural aesthetics. I know the venue had always been linked to some commercial aspect. It had been a food outlet, restaurant, but also I think a community space for people to meet.”

In keeping with that idea, the studio becomes a gallery for the duration of the summer holidays.

The area used as the Green Point Gallery space is cosy and intimate with neutral walls and timber features, including a tree trunk that is the centre point for the room and seating.

A curtain conceals the entry to Jana’s main workshop where she keeps supplies and equipment, but she said when she’s working she utilises the space available to her. “I have a tendency to spread wherever there is room so I’ll take over some of the gallery space, and that’s when it becomes a studio space.”

Gerard has his own space to work too. “That room is what we call the dirty workshop for Gerard’s sculptures and building work, because he does a lot of maintenance around the property.”

Jana’s work space has two sections, one enclosed and one outside in the courtyard.

“It’s an outdoor space that basically joins the structure and extends the working space. The textiles are predominantly dyed and printed out here using local plants.”

One hazard she needs to keep mindful of is the mosquitoes.

“I don’t recommend spending any length of time out there after the rain. Green Point is known for mozzies so I’m running the mozzie coils permanently.”

The process of creating her textile designs utilise weeds, herbs and teas in what’s called ‘direct printing method’ where the leaves are wrapped in a fabric or paper and then dyed.

Multipurpose: A gallery during the summer school holidays, this space is also used as a studio while Jana is working.

Multipurpose: A gallery during the summer school holidays, this space is also used as a studio while Jana is working.

“You need a heat source, so hence all the pots. I’m collecting plants constantly.”

That means walking is a big part of her process. “It had been something I enjoyed doing but for me it now extends into the art practice as well.”

The work space inside is where a lot of sorting and organising happens after she has collected her materials, perhaps on a walk, urban finds or gifts from friends.

Her collections are carefully sorted into transparent containers and placed on open shelving, meaning she can easily identify what she needs and be able to access it.

“I need to have them handy. This is the space where I spend lots of time, moving around from one workstation to another from one activity to another or something else.”

The area was custom fit by Gerard after they moved into the space. 

What I appreciate about having a studio and living space in such a close proximity is the immediacy of the access and that I can start working whenever I want to and then I can leave the space, leaving everything as it was to continue the process as I find it.

Jana Pearceova

“My requirement, whichever space I work in, is a number of flat table top surfaces. 

“Because of the process, I tend to work simultaneously on several pieces.

“The biggest in the room is a cutting table that accommodates for the wider pieces of textiles to be cut. I used to do the production side of garment manufacturing; pattern making, grading and then cutting and match making actual garments, hence the several sewing machines I’ve accumulated over the years.

“That was the tool of the trade I had to have. I still do it in a small amount.”

Jana previously worked in the costume wardrobe for dance groups and ballets and toured around Australia to cultural and entertainment centres.

Now, though, she predominantly does work for herself. “The materials and processes I prefer to work with are raw materials. Some of them are fibres, which are processed and then I spin them either by hand or on a spinning wheel. A selection of textiles are predominantly dyed. 

Jana said the landscape is an inspiration for her work. “I observe and also collect materials. Back in the studio is where the sorting and the organising happens and the physical making of works. In a sense it is, I guess, my way to respond to life and experiences within a specific environment.

“I was born and grew up in Slovakia, which is a very different environment to Australia, and culturally. The landscape was the first thing that I really connected with in Australia...the vastness of space. 

“You just don’t get that in Europe. Everywhere is just much more dense. In Australia there is this sense of open endless space.”

Jana moved to Australia as an international student when she was 24.

“Slovakia is landlocked country. The nearest coast for me was 500km away so I was 24-years-old when I saw the ocean for the first time and that had a great impact on me.”

Handmade: Jana Pearceova works at the spinning wheel made by her husband Gerard from recycled materials and found objects.

Handmade: Jana Pearceova works at the spinning wheel made by her husband Gerard from recycled materials and found objects.

She has lived in the Pacific Palms area for the past 10 years.

“Often times in winter you find yourself having that experience to yourself on the beach. I think lots of artists are big collectors, both in the physical sense but in also collecting impressions, images, and observations. 

“To me, I’m very much connected to the coastal environment even though it’s not part of my cultural background but it’s something very easy to connect with.

“There’s all these natural elements where they meet, the water and the air and the freshness of it.”

Jana sees her work as “documentary in nature,” explaining that nature is always an element in her work.

“It all really developed from my interest in textiles, whether partially because of my Slovak heritage because textiles has a big role in the craft and the creating of things with hands.

“My grandparents created things out of necessity, purely utilitarian values or purposes, but then my mum, she was a busy working woman. It was the way she spent spare time, utilising her hands and hand making things from things that are available, trying to make things from what exists and from what you have and are able to use.

Collection: Just a small sample of Jana's textiles. She works across many mediums from drawing to printmaking, painting and textiles, sculpture and mixed media.

Collection: Just a small sample of Jana's textiles. She works across many mediums from drawing to printmaking, painting and textiles, sculpture and mixed media.

“So, the physical handling of the materials and placing different elements together in mixed media collages and works, to me it’s an active thinking process and it is also a way to get the right understanding or meaning for creating a narrative.”

Jana works in series so will always be working on several pieces simultaneously.

She will collect her objects and sort them in the studio and then get to work.

“I collate them, move them around, alter them and then place one element to another. 

“The process tends to happen in stages and then also that inspiration and flow works together simultaneously. 

”But that's also because I work in a series. Where the objects aren’t found they’re made, there’s always these different elements working across the range of media like drawing and printmaking,” she said.