Jessica Jaffray BA (Hons) Fine Art 2020

Jessica Jaffray is a Blackpool-based painter who analyses the contentious areas of social morality. Through her work she discusses the role of external social pressures in the interpretation of one’s natural self, and the complications of a societal shift toward all that is ‘plastic’. Her painting ponders the loss of individuality in the search for perfection, as determined by a societal standard. To that end, the use of oil paints in her work stretches beyond the desire to identify with the traditional painterly vernacular. It shuns more modern methods of production as metaphors for mass production, and consequently the loss of individuality. The use of oil paint on canvas discusses the importance of the artist’s mind as the decision maker, in the role of a painting’s construction. It juxtaposes what is mass-produced and easily replicated, with a method of making that is personable and entirely unique to its creator. 

The work also questions the role that toys play in creating a standard of their own. Today, surgeries and procedures eliminate an appreciation of our flaws, as they provide the option to change things about oneself, yet this shifts us toward the unnatural. As a society, we are choosing socially desired features, and the consequence of this is a loss of uniqueness. Her practice identifies this flaw and calls for one’s natural self to be the desirable. 

In her writing on ‘Developing Self-love, Self-worth, and Body Image Acceptance through the Arts’, Thomson explains that “today, through the media and a constant stream of images, humans are inundated with pictures of the Utopian body... society dictate what represents a perfect figure.” It is this notion that my practice aims to illuminate. It aims to find the hypocrisy in calling something inherently problematic “utopian” by finding the flaws within the changing face of beauty. The work wants its audience to speculate with it, but also asks that they draw upon their own understanding to formulate opinions. It embraces the analogies of ‘The Death of the Author’ and understands that an individual’s unique experiences will lend themselves to equally unique interpretations. As such, it hopes that people take away from the work what it means in the context of their understandings.