Whether it’s appearing at festivals across the world or searching for inspiration and hunting down materials for her latest piece, every day is different for Fine Art and Psychology BA (Hons) graduate, and performance artist, Jade Blackstock. Jade, whose work centres around identity, memory and belonging, says she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Embarking on her Fine Art and Psychology degree, Jade wanted to work in arts therapy. But her tutors opened her eyes to the possibilities of performance art, something she had not even heard of before her degree.
“The University of Worcester changed the course of my life in a really good way,” said Jade. “For me, my University studies were the foundation for the work I’m doing today. If I hadn’t have gone to Worcester I don’t know if I would have been doing performance art. There are so many things that started there and developed there.”
“I did have an art education at school and sixth form, but I realised just how narrow the scope of what we learnt was when I moved to Worcester and spent time with the tutors in the Garage [the University’s previous Arts facility],” she said. “Once I heard about performance art it was just mind-blowing and it went from there. Until then I was still doing sketches of pears and apples and knew I didn’t really connect with it. I was doing it for doing its sake. I felt like my mind was blown open by all these references and ideas that I had no clue about before.”
Jade does live action sculpture, which combines sculpture - using her own body and objects to create visual spectacle - and movement. Often, she will make political points through her art, often using natural objects. She started doing her first public art works in Worcester and it grew from there.
“The course really gave me the freedom to explore anything I wanted,” she said. “At the University you had so much freedom and amazing support. There were lots of opportunities to try out new performances and audiences were invited. I just loved it. I think for me the kind of atmosphere and community we had, it felt really safe and nurturing. I will always remember my experience at Worcester.”
She said the lecturers were always there to offer advice or insight on what she was planning to do. “They really helped me to think critically about my work and why I was doing the things I was doing instead of being on autopilot,” she said. “I was thinking about politics, society and my position in the world, which I feel like until that moment in Worcester I had not really looked at before. They encouraged me to look more critically at the work and why I was making the work I was making. They recommended books and shows to see. They actually told me to apply for a Masters’ – I wouldn’t have done that if they hadn’t said to me ‘you can do it’. They were really encouraging.”
Alongside the creative inspiration for her artwork, Jade said her lecturers also helped with the more practical side of being an artist and how to best market yourself, such as how to formulate an artist statement, needed to apply for jobs or projects. After graduating in 2014, Jade went on to do a Masters’ degree in Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art on a scholarship.
A lot of Jade’s work centres around performing at art festivals, galleries and film festivals and screenings. It can be high octane and she has performed in Poland, Sweden, France and Germany as well as around the UK. Her recorded work has also been screened at events across the world, including in South Korea. Now living in Sicily, she combines her artwork with teaching English online.
“It’s very fun and it’s a little chaotic. It takes you on a lot of adventures,” she said. “It’s definitely not 9 to 5. Sometimes I sit and wonder what am I doing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love it. Every day is very different.”
To those thinking of embarking on an artistic degree at Worcester, Jade’s message draws on her own experience. “Make sure you use the time in Worcester to really explore everything that you have thought of exploring as an artist because it gives you the perfect environment to try new things, even change mediums. I did that three times. It’s just nice to have a space, a nurturing space where you can fully explore yourself and your work before you go out into the industry.”
Jade's Performance Artwork
All photo credits Alex Gulino
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