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Artist Q&A: Daisie Jacobs

02 Mar 2023

We spoke to Daisie Jacobs, winner of The Hepworth Wakefield Print Fair Prize 2022, ahead of her cyanotype workshop at the gallery. Daisie's prints are on display in the gallery's café until the end of April 2023.

Can you give us a brief introduction to your work?

I’m rubbish at talking about my own practise, mainly because I’m fickle with processes and it’s very instinctual. It’s my way of trying to make sense of it all, and it’s informed by constant incidental research. I’m drawn to the uncanny, the obscured and the physical human form, so these are common themes in my work, but it’s always evolving with me.

You have produced a lovely cyanotype exhibition for The Hepworth Wakefield Café. Could you tell us how you got into cyanotype and the importance of sustainability in your process?

Firstly, thank you – I’ve dubbed it my Blue Period because it was during lockdown that I started printing cyanotypes. Due to a lack of access to equipment I began exploring camera-less photographic processes. This scratched the itch of wanting to feel more connected to the work I was making anyway, and it meant I was able to take a more tactile approach to image making instead of being stuck behind a screen all the time. It got me outside, boosted my vitamin D levels, and gave me a sense of purpose at a time when I felt I had none – so I owe a lot to the process.

I think it’s becoming much more common for anyone putting physical work out there into the world to experience a bit of cognitive dissonance around wanting to create but feeling a sense of guilt. Maybe that’s not true, but that’s how I was starting to feel – I wanted to make work but couldn’t shake the thought of ‘am I just busy doing a load of navel-gazing whilst the world is crumbling around me?’ I started to question whether it was worth pouring polluting chemicals away so that I could make a photograph, post it on Instagram and have my ego stroked for an hour. I started looking for more sustainable approaches. You might be pleased to know I’ve since calmed down and gained more perspective on the matter – no disrespect to the traditional darkroom photographers out there – but the strange period that brought me to the cyanotype process has made me consider the materials and processes I use before I use them, even if I may ultimately decide the outcome outweighs the impact.

You are a Leeds-based artist and also studied at Leeds Arts University. How has the city influenced your work and what do you think the challenges are of being a creative in the North?

Leeds is modest and so are many of its people – there is a genuine abundance of creativity and talent in the city but it’s very low-key about it. I think it’s that quiet confidence that keeps me here. Leeds doesn’t need to scream and shout about how great it is, but if you know you know.

The available opportunities in the north do not mirror the number of those deserving of them, so there’s a clear DIY culture present amongst creatives up here and a willingness to help each other out. This is a great thing to have come out of something unfortunate, and I’d say the DIY spirit has influenced the way I work.

What’s the best creative advice that you ever received?

To embrace mistakes and not be stunted by the fear of failing. I have to remind myself of this regularly because I’m very self-critical but it’s absolutely true. Often my favourite work is the result of having done something incorrectly, being a bit slap dash, or just making work for the sake of making and letting the process reveal something to me.

I like working with processes that require giving up a certain amount of control to the process itself, because it allows me to work more freely and find those ‘happy accidents’ that teach you something you otherwise wouldn’t have discovered if you’d tried to control every aspect of the creative process.

Which other Leeds/Wakefield-based artists are you inspired by at the moment?

I’m surrounded by a lot of talented people so it’s difficult to narrow it down but to name a few you should check out I’d say everyone involved at SCREW gallery in Leeds, Edd Carr and the Northern Sustainable Darkroom, photographers Dan Commons and Sean O’Connell, sound artists Michael Sangster and Lucy Johnson, and artists Bianca Wallis-Salmon, James Sewell and Becky Pearey.

Cyanotype Printing from Photographs
Sat 11 March, 10.30am – 4pm
£70 / Members £59.50
Book now