Jaycent Davies is spreading his creative wings over the Manning Great Lakes. We catch up with the local artist.
Where did you grow up Jaycent?
I grew up in Taree in a family of five kids – two brothers and two sisters – and with a beautiful mother named Pam Saunders. I am part of an extended family … the Saunders Family.
You started off an illustration career when you were 16, designing posters for NSW Health. What sparked the interest?
I have always drawn and had an aptitude for visual arts. My family are mostly artists, like my mum Pam Saunders and my uncle Russell Saunders. I have been drawing since I can remember. The Aboriginal Medical Service at the time needed posters for one of their health campaigns funded by NSW Health, and my artwork had the flavor they needed to gather community attention.
What other mediums do you explore in your art?
Graphic design, t-shirt design, all original prints, musical composition, illustration, artistic installations, sculpture, printmaking, ceramics, murals, songwriting and I have acted as the main character in a 40 minute movie and am due to act again.
You were involved in painting the mural on the Manning River, how did that come about? Explain the concept for us.
I was asked by the Community Development Officer at the Council, as I have also drawn a few murals for local high schools. The concept of the mural was based on the morals and social concepts of the young men and women of a number of high schools within the local district. I was asked to design a mural which reflected their individual and group views about issues surrounding the wellbeing and respect of the Community.
Some of these topics included respect for traditional owners, respect for each other as a whole community, education, self preservation, good health, sound mind and body, love, law, the environment, peace, harmony, multiculturalism and positive future.
After 20 years in the industry, how has the Aboriginal art style been received? Would you say people have taken more interest over the last decade?
More Koori people have been taken seriously today than in the past, therefore the achievements of Koori people have been taken more seriously. The realisation that Koori art has become one of the dominant art movements in the world has opened eyes. The dreamings of Koori people today have changed, and therefore reflect a different flavor to the traditional expressions of our ancestors.
My personal dreaming reflects the strengths of my culture still, though it has a modern twist, it holds strengths of survival and harmony within the modern world we live in.
I would say some people have taken more interest in the fact that Koori art has become a lucrative industry.
Some people have recognised the beauty of the art movement, they see and feel the stories and the messages. Respect, however, for the culture and people is still yet to come.
You teach at the TAFE campus, how are you educating young people about your art culture?
Koori culture has a close relationship to the land, family and kinship. This allows an insight into the aesthetic qualities of life itself.
The bonds between the earth and respect for the family, induce an artistic outlook on the world. More value is placed on keeping the world alive and not destroying it.
At the entrance of the Taree campus I was contracted to complete four stainless steel sculpture installations, to reflect cultural signage for the traditional owners of the country. Each plate reflects qualities of the Biripi culture and relates directly to the Biripi beliefs. Creating substantial works of art has an impact on the human eye and shows the youth what is possible.
Teaching young people the importance of their own originality empowers their minds and hopefully guides them through the traps of life, and gives them tools to filter material and superficial aspects which are trying to take them for a ride. There’s an array of original qualities which make our country unique and Koori culture is one of these qualities.
You have also contributed to children’s books. How did you find that experience?
I have illustrated books for a company called Indij Readers, which became a successful business supplying different grade learnings to children within the institutions. Two of my books are ‘Me and My Mum’ and ‘Pet Crabs’ which have been a joy for young children to read, adding an indigenous flavour to this learning tool.
Illustrating books can be quite tiresome though the finished products are very rewarding to one’s inner self. I also designed the logo and spine design for each book. Two of my books can be seen on the website http://www.indijreaders.com.au/
As an artist, where do you hope to be in the next 10 years?
I hope to be working in Australia and overseas, with open minded people, and practicing my art.
Finish this sentence …
I think people will love my work because … it reflects aspects of culture and living of our local area, showing the beauty of our country and lifestyle through colour texture, wit and honor to the great tributary called the Manning.
My work is dreaming about this place. Dreaming is thinking and everyone does this every day. Capturing the elements through your own mind is something that I have always been naturally affiliated with. It’s something that comes naturally to me, and it is something I love.
Thank you Jaycent.