Aquarius: The Water Carrier
Artwork for Blanket magazine
Louise was invited by Blanket magazine to make an artwork based on her star sign, Aquarius. The piece featured in The Cosmos Issue, as part of their artist project, Astrology Psychology. Twelve artist cards were also made available to purchase, download and print, as part of Astrology Psychology.
Interview for The Cosmos Issue
Aquarius: The Water Carrier (21 January – 19 February)
The Aquarius sign have original and inventive minds so their concept will err on the intellectual side. They will want to come up with a concept that is different and unusual. They will have several different ideas and may try several different approaches before deciding on the final “version”.
Knowing that Louise Jennison is one-half of the dynamic duo Gracia & Louise we were interested to see not only how she would approach the brief as a solo artist but also if any of the characteristics of a typical Aquarian would be present in her final piece.
I am from the eleventh sign of the zodiac. I am an Aquarian, born in the second week of February many years ago now. For this project based upon star signs, I thought about all the things to do with being a water bearer. Our element is Air and we are ruled by the planet Saturn, this I know, but I am not someone who reads my star sign forecast weekly. We are meant to be changeable too, aren't we?
Researching this project, I realized that there seems little else I know of my sign. I decided to look into it further and using water as a general springboard, I set about planning to either draw or photograph a collection of water jugs and various vessels. From this initial idea, it all fell neatly into place. Once I started, ideas came freely. My love of birds needed to be incorporated. I buried my nose in the bird books I own and ones I borrowed from the library. I wanted to draw birds that were extinct or rare.
I drew especially for this project, a Pacific gull and a Papa westray great auk. The Pacific gull I drew was once common on Sydney Harbour. In the twentieth century the common kelp gull drove it out. The Great auk I selected second, as it “is one of the most powerful symbols of the damage humans can cause”. I drew from a photograph of a museum specimen, the last one known in existence. It is from 1813. It is penguin-like in appearance and it “is now extinct, not because of habitat loss, but rather intense human exploitation” (Treasures of the Natural History Museum, Natural History Museum, London).
I wanted to draw these water birds as my companions. I drew them quite large on the page and then with a sharp blade, I cut around my drawing, almost as if setting them free. I planned to photograph them by the ocean. Creating a scene, picnic-like, of me as the Aquarian with my water bird companions sipping water and carrying water vessels by the sea. I wanted blues, the ocean and the sky.
The drawings themselves took a week or so to draw and slowly cut out. Gracia and I then spent a grey autumn day both photographing the drawings in their new environment. In some of the photos, I feature, holding my water birds. Other photos I took. From near to eighty photos, I made my choice. I wanted to paint a scene of an Aquarian water bearer that was not too obvious yet clear. I wanted you to be able to see the pencil markings on my drawing. I wanted to make a drawing that was more than a work on paper; I wanted it to be part of a scene created at the end of a windy pier.
I had a great deal of fun with this project. I enjoyed researching the history of the two birds and coming up with something that summed up my star sign to me.