Jess MacNeil’s practice spans painting, drawing, video, and installation, often translating and cross-fertilising from one medium to another. Her works explore the dynamics of the human relationship with the environment we live in.
MacNeil is concerned in particular with public or shared space. Her works explore the ways in which we perceive these spaces from subjective points of view, and situate ourselves within them in relationship to one another. The space of the artwork itself is also a focus. She often questions or exploits the ways the artist, viewer, and subject are situated in relation to the work, either directly through trace, residue, or reflection or indirectly by depiction, inference, absence or erasure.
Jess MacNeil’s solo exhibitions include On Reflection, presented by the Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore in 2011, First. One. Thing. Then. Another. at Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney, 2011, and The Shape of Between at Gallery Barry Keldoulis and Elastic Residence, London 2006. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2007, 2008, 2009), the Samstag Museum of Art, Adelaide, (2008), the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (2009), the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2009), Museum of Modern Art, Brisbane (2010) and Abbot Hall Art Gallery, UK (2011).
Jess was awarded an Anne & Gordon Samstag Scholarship in 2007, which she used to complete a Graduate Affiliate Program at the Slade School of Art, London in 2008, and the Fauvette Louriero Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship in 2007. She won the Primavera Veolia Acquisitive Award in 2009. In 2011 she was commissioned by Experimenta Media Arts to create work for Experimenta’s upcoming 2012 Biennial, and received further funding to complete this work through an Australia Council New Work Grant.
In 2006 Jess undertook a two-month period of travel in India to research regionally specific experiences of public space, funded by a Freedman Foundation Award. This research culminated in a body of work emphasising of the artist’s awareness of the transience of human habitation and the contingency of human experience, and has influenced subsequent work. She has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America, and her experience of different places continues to influence her work.
Her work is held in public collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia Council for the Arts, Hamilton Regional Art Gallery, Artbank, and the collection of the Sydney Opera House, as well as numerous Australian and international private collections.
Born in Canada in 1977, Jess MacNeil moved to Australia with her parents before her first birthday. She currently lives and works between London and Sydney.