THE SIX FOOT GALLERY INTERVIEW: Unknown Errors + Olivia Juett

Hello Olivia! What was your starting point for exploring the theme of What Do People Make of Glasgow?
One of the elements of Glasgow’s creative scene I really enjoy is how many people just start things here. If you have an idea for an event, creative project or any spark of inspiration it feels like Glasgow has the spaces, enthusiasm and creative energy to get those projects going. The translation of idea into reality has so many twists and turns, so being somewhere that encourages those initial thoughts and DIY processes has been so inspiring. I wanted to explore this through a more abstract visualisation, and I kept thinking back to moments of initiation in the natural world when seeds are planted. There is trust, uncertainty and hope in planting a seed – which feels very similar to kicking off a new project! From there the planted pockets were born. 

Can you walk us through your creative process?
I always start a project by drawing – I find it’s a really good way of getting ideas out of my head, and start looking at things with real intention and focus. No matter the theme I’m working with, I always want to capture a specific mood in my work, so I’ll also think about the atmosphere I want to convey. Then, once I have visuals, research (written and visual – I’m always noticing things) and mood, I start piecing them together and seeing what materials work best for the three strands in combination.

How did your artistic journey start?
Really, it started from enjoying making things so much! There was an ease I felt in using my hands to create things, even if the outcomes weren’t “good” by any sort of external standard. Physical making is still a huge motivation in what I do.

How has your practice changed over time?
I find I work in series a lot more now. My work often manifests in a collection of similar or interlinked outcomes, which each feed off each other to tell a story. Even if I’m not illustrating a direct narrative, I find myself working with multiples and progression to visualise my ideas.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
I try to switch up the pace of what I’m doing, and do a couple of really quick pieces when I’m feeling stuck. For me, this works best when it’s completely unrelated to the project that’s frustrating me. I’ll sketch something with a short time frame or set myself a creative task that can be done in 5 minutes or so. This switches my brain from labouring over decisions or putting too much weight into how “good” the piece needs to be – it’s finished when the time is up, rather than when I decide it’s ready to see the world, and the time restraint helps me to focus on my immediate creative surroundings. My work flows between doing and thinking, and often I get creative block when I’ve been sitting in the thinking stage for too long. 

Who influences you? Which other artists work do you love? 
I’ve been looking at El Greco’s paintings a lot recently, for the majesty and sense of awe in his work. I also love Amy Sillman for her colour and expression (and her writings too, she has some really interesting thoughts on drawing and art making!). I recently discovered the sculptor Brie Ruais as well – the way she uses materials is incredible!

What advice would you give to artists who are just starting out?
Find people who you can talk to about your work. They don’t need to have the same creative passion, just someone who is an engaged listener. Share ideas and outcomes, talk through current projects, ask for feedback – having this engagement is so valuable to push the work you’re making and maintain your enthusiasm if you’re going through a bit of a dip! It’s also really good practice in releasing some of your creations into the world.

See more of Olivia’s work at @oliviajuett on Instagram. Unknown Errors runs at Six Foot Gallery until 19th September 2023.

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