Clare Ellison Jakes (‘CEJ’ for short) is a settler visual artist, working in Naarm (Melbourne). CEJ acknowledges the Traditional Custodians throughout Australia, in particular the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation whose country she lives and works on, and recognises their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. She pays her respects to First Nations Elders past, present and the emerging leaders of tomorrow. This is stolen land and sovereignty was never ceded.
CEJ predominantly works in painting, but also across the fields of installation, drawing and video art. Primarily, her practice explores the relationship between art – and by extension culture – and the natural world. Particularly in the Global North, there is a prevailing culture-nature divide; a metabolic rift. In a time where our separation from the environment is colliding with humanity and more-than-human nature’s existence, a paradigm shift is critical. While largely tar and concrete, the city is full of life; both human and non-human. CEJ’s recent works are an intimate reconnection to her/our eco-surroundings and the mortality, beauty and complexity of this existence.
Furthermore, her practice sits in the discourse around sensuality and objectification, and their visual manifestations in contemporary and artistic cultures. The canon’s depictions of lust and the body are explored through the work’s own medium, and challenged through its subjectivity. Its saturatured colouring does not retract seduction, flesh and intensity. How we look, feel and lose ourselves in desire, then re-imagine these aspects of desire, is the constant endeavour. It is a site where false binaries become lost as they intertwine in a wash of stimulated nerves, feeling and colour.
In 2017, CEJ graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with First Class Honours. She is now studying a Master of Environment, at the University of Melbourne, specialising in environmental humanities and community adaptation.