London-based creative Jazz Grant wants her collages to resonate with the viewer. By combining a collection of hand-cut paper images that interplay with one another, Jazz creates new meaning from what already exists. Indeed, this is the basis of any work made through the collage method, but Jazz executes this with her own special flair. Each image, already imbued with their own histories and significance, each a culmination of cultural and visual references, are heavily saturated with their own meaning. In combining those, Jazz manages to create something completely new.
“I’m driven by an urge to try and create something that I haven’t seen before. It excites me that it is possible to make something truly unique from images that already exist. I think that’s why I started to make collages,” Jazz tells It’s Nice That, adding that she has always been comfortable with paper manipulation as a technique. “The hundreds of small decisions you have to make when making an artwork make up a person’s style. I try to trust my instincts. It all stems from emotion. It’s really visceral and personal but it’s also quite uncomplicated.”
What Jazz looks for, essentially, is a feeling. This instinctive approach allows her to see what clicks, but it’s only when she finds this new feeling in the combination that she settles on a particular composition. Much like the way that the registers of different instruments resonate to give colour to a certain chord, these collages evoke a certain drive, a certain emotion.
Speaking on how she finds her images, Jazz says that her method varies. “I haven’t been able to scout out charity shops recently but I’d normally have a browse for new books every week. I like the unpredictability of charity shops,” the artist says. “But every project has a different set of imagery to use. I’ve previously created a series from one or two particular books I’ve found. I’ve done a small series called Postcards From Sri Lanka, collages from phone photos I took while I was there at the end of 2019. I've also started to work with an image researcher for particular projects.”
Her process starts with printing out the images she intends to use and covering her studio with those that she plans to work with. “I like to surround myself with it, then I scan through and pick out an image that speaks to me in some way. I’ll start cutting it and place it on top of other imagery. Then I try something else. Repeating the process, photocopying combinations that have something to them,” she says. “Eventually it all comes together. It’s really precise and can be incredibly frustrating, working with many different layered cutouts. When I’m finally happy with it, sticking it down is a nightmare.”
She speaks about the aforementioned emotions, one of them about witnessing beauty when the world finally ends. In Sun Kissed Sweethearts, Jazz creates a static artwork of multiple frames to create a short motion-based work. “I used to love looking at the first documented moving image by Eadweard Muybridge and I approach a lot of my artworks in this way. They work as both animation and physical artworks in their own right,” she says. “This particular artwork encompasses the beauty and power of collage through its simplicity but it also taps in to themes of eschatology. My interpretation of a beautiful end to the world. A theme I keep coming back to.”
Jazz Grant: Jemison
About the Author
Alif joined It's Nice That as an editorial assistant from September to December 2019 after completing an MA in Digital Media at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing often looks at the impact of art and technology on society.