When I think about people going places, really succeeding and grabbing life by its collar and giving it a shake, I think about Rachel. When starting something new, whether it’s the beginning of university, a new year or a different job it can be easy to shy away from our big dreams and get lost in the muddle of it all. Not Rachel Jones. She carries herself like a grand old African dame but her laugh is pure dirty Essex. When she is not hustling around the West End, all pippy long stocking legs stuffed into flatform creepers, turns out she’s actually pretty good at painting. “As a kid the ultimate dream was for me to spend the rest of my life “colouring in” and I realised I could achieve that by going to art school and spending four years learning exactly what I wanted to make art about”.
Splashes of colour, jaunted angles and a story to tell, it’s no surprise that the artwork Rachel Jones debuted at her graduate show gained so much attention, not to mention praise. Taking away three prizes from her Glasgow School of Art showcase, Rachel is delighted that the success of her collection means she’ll be working full steam ahead for the next few months. “I’m really excited to be in a play called ‘Fifty Shades of Black” as well as having a series of group and solo exhibitions coming up.”
It took time and a lot of experimentation for Rachel to arrive at her bold and visceral style and Rachel accounts Carol Gibbons and Phillipp Guston as influences plus “Picasso. Always Picasso”.
“My work centres on the female form and raises questions about the role women have in society and in art. I wanted to change the way people think of the female nude and reclaim the female vision, working against the male dominated understandings that we have about the representations and roles of women. It is important when people think of art history they understand the part women play.” Although her dramatic work, which focuses on woman as both the artist and the muse, Rachel claims the work are not self-portraits. “As a woman and an artist, I used caricatures of myself in a lot of the paintings but self-portraits are definitely what I’m planning to do next”.
Amongst her series of future projects is an exhibition in London “I’m really excited because it’s my hometown and it’s the first time I’ll be exhibiting there”. But the dream is to show work internationally, “I want lots of people to see my paintings and I want it to change the way they view themselves and the world we live in. Ideally this will be done from the safe haven of my studio in New York where I will live and make work, forever and ever. Amen!” This big personality may have big dreams, but she is certainly off to a good start.
Matthew Allen currently studies the BDes Hons Fashion course at Glasgow School of Art, would love to dress Solange Knowles, has Daft Punk’s first album on repeat and is responsible for Rachel’s knockout gown that she wore to her Graduate show.
How did your collaboration with Rachel come about? It’s been a mutual collaboration for a while. Rachel worked with me on another project last year when I used her as a fit model and photographed her in the final looks. Since then we have discussed and looked into each other’s work – it’s great to look into a different specialism and to get an insight into another area of art school.
What makes Rachel such a good muse? She has an energy about her that transpires way beyond her looks; her personality and her character is infectious and when she is photographed you see a strong translation of that on film. She doesn’t hold back with what she wears so it gave me the freedom to experiment and I didn’t feel restricted during the design process.
Tell me about the dress! Rachel had a strong vision of how she wanted to look – as long as it was long and white she said I could design whatever I wanted. I really thought about the night, she needed to be comfortable and at ease. That’s where the idea of the relaxed sportswear structure came from – almost like throwing on a t-shirt with an evening skirt. It needed to be clean and minimal as her work is so strong and bold. The textile was heavy wool as I liked the idea of using a traditional fabric in a really youthful way.
What was your main source of inspiration? We had this idea of her being instantly recognisable against her exhibited work. They idea of informality also played a huge part, so I used sportswear shapes but an unusual way. The real inspiration was Rachel herself. She wore it with a printed headscarf which, for me, completed the relaxed feeling of the look.
What is next for you? I’m working on the early stages of my final collection, finding materials and trying to come across new things to bring together for next June so a combination of that and my internship in London is keeping me busy right now.
What is the ‘Big Dream’? – graduating with a collection I love. Being proud of the outcome. Moving to London, and then starting something new.
Rachel’s quickfire round:
Listening to…’Acid Rap’ by Chance the Rapper
Eating… A wee coffee and a massive slice of cake from Kember & Jones. CAKE. FIEND.
Best advice… Only surround yourself with people that make you a better version of yourself and love you. If people don’t do that for you get rid of them. Move it or lose it sista!
Most precious item… My degree show dress that Matthew Allen made me!
Next dream purchase… A bespoke tailored leopard print suit. BOOM!
Phrase you most overuse… ”BAAABE. SHUUUT UUUP” I’m from Essex!
If I died I would come back as… A crazy happy medicine man
By Kirsty McKenzie
See Rachel’s work here; http://www.rachelvictoriajones.co.uk/