Jan 20, 2016 1:06PM

Desert Designs' Jedda-Daisy Culley On Her Australian As Art Project

Universal love.

Jedda-Daisy Culley, one half of very Australian label Desert Designs, has produced a new body of work dedicated to the Australian landscape. Her Universal Love project aims to give voice to unseen spiritual aspects of the land, based on the Indigenous understanding that humans are in and of these places.

These works are part of Jedda's continuing discovery of Australian Indigenous culture, and theories of man and land, that began with the preservation of Jimmy Pike's work. We caught up with Jedda to talk about her highly conceptual process, Aboriginal cosmology and our mystic southern land.

Lucy Jones: Can you describe your Universal Love project in a sentence?
Jedda-Daisy Culley: Universal Love is a collection of landscape paintings that endeavour to give expression to the invisible, spiritual dimensions of the Australian landscape.

How does the process of creating a painting differ from your design work?
Designing for Desert Designs is a collaborative process — the brand's objective is to celebrate the art, culture and stories of another artist. Working with Jimmy Pike's legacy is forever a source of inspiration within my own practice but the process is incomparable. My artistic practice has no boundaries or limitations. It holds no responsibilities to collaborators or to the integrity of another artist's archive. In my painting studio, the conversations are between myself, colour, composition and expression. There is no computer, no internet, only pigments, brushes, mediums, canvases, a bunch of flowers and sometimes a little music.

Do the themes and story of Desert Designs carry through your paintings?
Yes, landscape is a central theme to the brand. Desert Designs has given me the opportunity to discover Australia's Indigenous culture. I have been privileged to learn something of the intricacies of the desert landscape and the particularities of Aboriginal cosmology — the wisdom in how they view landscape in this country. Jimmy's visual archive has been a touchstone for me to enter this world. From this I have developed my own theories around people and land. I believe Indigenous people understand spirituality as a relationship between human beings and place, where the human is not above the land, but is a part of it, living in the land. It is this theory that I carry through into both my art and design practices.

What are the feelings that you most strongly associate with the Australian landscape?

Your paintings represent places in nature, are they based on actual places or feelings and memories?
I make studies in the landscape with watercolours and drawing, it's important to my concept that something of the landscape is captured as a direct response. I take the studies into my studio and work to explore that captured feeling into an expression of colour and composition.

Do you have a favourite place?
Under a huge sky, I love wide open spaces.

What's your headspace when you're creating a work? Does it happen fast or slow?
I find it hard to articulate where my head's at when I'm creating. When I am working there is a dialogue that comes into conversation between shapes, colours, lines and textures — a secret language for recognising; pattern thinking.  

What is your idea of utopia?
"Everything standing up alive" — David Mowaljarlai and Jutta Malnic, Yorro Yorro: Aboriginal Creation and the Renewal of Nature (1993). And a flower garden under a big sky by the ocean.

If people took one thing away from your work what would you want it to be?
Conscious landscape.

Universal Love opens on Thursday, February 4 from 6-8pm @ Mild Manners Gallery, Surry Hills, and will run up until Saturday February 14.

Studio portraits: Cloudy Rhodes
Artwork photos: Luke Brennan

Lucy Jones