Jessica Leitmanis is a multidisciplinary artist, currently working sculpturally with marine debris rope. Jess has travelled to some of the most remote and truly wild regions of Australia with various organisations to acquire this material—from the rugged South West of Tasmania to salty crocodile country in Cape York.
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 with 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. Jess views her process as a vehicle for self and social reflection.
In 2019, her work was highly commended in the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. In 2018 Jess held a solo exhibition, Excavations of the Deep at Lone Goat Gallery in Byron Bay, which included some of her largest sculptural forms 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, Japan and New Zealand.
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 and has practised as a design professional for 16 years. Hailing from the Surf Coast of Victoria, Jess is currently based in Byron Bay, NSW and creates sculptures from her sanctuary—a rustic shed. She is an ambassador for Take 3 for the Sea, and has volunteered with various clean up organisations and conservation programs over the past 7 years.
Her work can be viewed at https://www.jessicaleitmanis.com/