Jessica leitmanis

Jess is a sculpture artist with a strong connection to the ocean. Her primary medium, marine debris rope, has been salvaged from extremely remote coastlines across Australia. To acquire this material, she has travelled around the rugged South West of Tasmania by boat with South West Marine Debris Cleanup (twice), and to salty crocodile country, Cape York, with Clean Coast Collective and Tangaroa Blue. On these expeditions marine debris was hand collected, sorted, counted and data logged. Jess returned home greedily with as much rope as her transport would accommodate. Her personal collection weighs in at over 700kg.

The trials of a castaway life have imparted incredible battle scars on the rope. Jess was drawn to her medium for its character, and the dissonance it represents. Stories of a life at sea, tales of the earth and Earth's man, are hidden in the twists and turns. Often perished and degraded from the sun and prolonged exposure to the elements; frayed, faded, tangled, stained, and brittle; this fibre is anything but predictable. Jess thinks of her creative process akin to a strange tango, an intricate wrestle, between the will of the maker and the will of the rope. The quirks of the rope ultimately dictating its finished form.

Through her work Jess explores ideas that encompass the environment, design, consumer culture, sustainability, sociology and philosophy. Jess is interested in our connection to the space around us – how we sculpt our environment, and how it sculpts us. She considers our approach to design; the things we construct and the things we discard; to gain insights into our society and its values.

In 2018 Jess held a solo exhibition, 'Excavations of the Deep' at Lone Goat Gallery in Byron Bay, which included some of her largest sculpture works to date. In both 2016 and 2015, Jess held a solo exhibition in Melbourne as part of Sustainable Living Festival, titled ‘Tomorrow’s Nest’ and ‘Future Sands’ respectively. She has exhibited work in group shows across Australia and New Zealand over the past 8 years.

Jess continues to cultivate her social inquiry, conceptual development and critical thinking. She graduated with a Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) from RMIT in 2004. She has practised as a design professional for 14 years. Hailing from the Surf Coast of Victoria, Jess currently based in Byron Bay, NSW and creates sculptures from her home studio.

Jess is an ambassador for Take 3 for the Sea, and has volunteered with various clean up organisations and conservation programs over the past 5 years.

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