Jodi Wiley’s love of books shines in this exhibition. Well, it does more than shine. It radiates! An ex-English teacher, Jodi now devotes her time to her art practice, and lately that practice has involved a lot of bookwork! Jodi states, “Books have always played an important role in my life. Their physical presence serves as a kind of autobiography marking periods of time. Despite the advent of digital libraries and the decreasing space on my bookshelf I find it hard to part with books. I initially embarked on this body of work thinking that painting some of these books would release me from their sentimental pull and I would then be able to cull them. Paradoxically, now that they have been painted, another layer of meaning is added to their story and I’m even more reluctant to let them go.
Each painting depicts books I own or have sourced from my family. When I look at each book stack there is a flood of memories and feelings. Each painting contains multiple narratives – my own personal history intertwines with the stories within them. The fact that many other people have special memories attached to the same books means the narrative possibilities within each book stack are infinite.
Our mode of daily communication is increasingly digital but physical books will always have a place, not as mere marginalia but as treasured objects representing more than the words between the covers.”
One painting stood out to me – The Little Oxford Dictionary, all by itself. I inquired about the meaning of this one, and Jodi told me that she always carried this little book with her, just in case she was caught out on a word, even camping. This is an artist after my own heart!
An interesting development occurred whilst Jodi was working on this exhibition. Somewhere along the line, Jodi and her husband Kim, who makes cigar-box guitars under the name High Strung Guitars, decided to build some cigar-box guitars made from books, or featuring a stunning book painting. There are ten of these guitars on show in this exhibition as well, and they add something truly remarkable to this exhibition.
More about Jodi:
Jodi Wiley is a Melbourne artist who is interested in themes of nostalgia, memory, place and the way we make meaning from personal narratives. These paintings have been created primarily with watercolour and touches of ink and gouache.
Jodi has been a past winner of the Darebin Art Prize and was awarded Highly Commended in the 2015 Nillumbik Art Prize for her painting Afternoon light. She has been a finalist in the Kennedy Prize, the Banyule Award for Works on Paper, the Agendo Art Prize and the Gallipoli Art Prize.
She has also worked in a library, been a high school English teacher and a freelance writer. Her paintings have been acquired by several councils and are held in private collections. jodiwiley.com