Curious Explorers in the World of Jeremy Hush
When I was little I used to spend hours in my family’s garden, studying the intricacies of the landscape. Deeply influenced by my love of Jill Barklem’s Brambly Hedge illustrations, I was looking for mice homes amongst the trees and bushes. What I discovered under rocks and in what seemed like quiet little corners of our yard, was a surprising amount of activity amongst the insects and the birds. Those formative, imaginative years were the first time I began to be in awe of nature and draw and write songs. I had quite forgotten about those wondrous days in my backyard, until I came across visual artist Jeremy Hush‘s work for the first time last year.
I met Hush entirely by chance and I am so grateful I did. I was doing an interview with the incredible visual artist and musician John Dyer Baizley of the metal band Baroness and was waiting for Baizley to finish his band’s soundcheck for our interview to start. While I loitered about, I ended up speaking with the artist Jeremy Hush, who was on tour with Baroness at the time. Both Baizley and Hush went to the same art college and have maintained a friendship over the years, as well as both lending their visual art talents to the album covers, flyers and T-shirts of very lucky bands, mostly within the metal and punk scenes. Hush’s intricate and sensual illustrations have graced the promotional materials for bands including Baroness and US Christmas, which have garnered his art international acclaim.
Hush creates immensely detailed work using a ball point pen and found materials for pigment, often using his fingerprints to create shading, giving his work an aged, textured and timeless quality. Hush’s work reminds me of being small again, but even smaller than I ever once was, being surrounded by nature, with the flurry of activity one finds under rocks and decaying logs seeming larger and noisier because of the shift in proportion. Hush’s work, illustrated with lush detail inspired by natural forms in various states of life and decay, could be as at home amongst Victorian botanical etchings as it is amongst contemporary illustrations. Hush’s work takes the 19th century aesthetic much deeper by adding to it his own cast of fascinating feminine, masculine and animal characters, journeying through his haunted landscapes, intriguing the viewer to attempt to chase down the phantom narrative.
Much like my garden when I was a child, I could stare at Hush’s work for hours and still find something more to see. There is always a rock to turn over or some dried brush to look past and see another intriguing story unfolding underneath.
Hush’s work is featured in the group show “Curioso” this June at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City. Curioso, features three contemporary artists, Hush, Lindsey Carr and Frank Gonzales, each inspired by 19th century natural history and botanical references in their own unique ways. This stunning show opens Saturday, June 1 at Thinkspace Gallery from 6-9 pm and runs from June 1-June 29.
Interview with Jeremy Hush:
Can you tell a bit about the inspiration behind this new series?
For this show I was really wanting to get back to some of my original ideas from college. I wanted to illustrate children’s books. I have always loved Victorian era stories and cautionary tales. Before technology or computers, imagination was based more on reality, nature and what is actually around you. Mysteries lie in a hole in the ground or under a rock, characters were young curious explorers, and the strangest of creatures were based on real animals. Some were gigantic others would talk or be combined with another animal. (It was) imaginative but still grounded somewhat in reality.
My last show was based on nature and it reclaiming us and our world. Our bodies becoming shells and put to better use as homes for animals. Critters being the main characters and humans as part of the environment. Like in my new series, I angle to make nature seem bigger than we are. The smallest patch of grass is full of life.
How long have you been working on this new series?
I’ve been working for about 4 months on this series. I can spend a long time drawing in one tiny spot. I will render things till they go completely black if I’m not careful. In this series I really wanted to show our world from a different view. Make it bigger and us smaller. With swans large like brontosauruses and small blue birds the size of horses. I wanted to look up at the grass in the yard.
Where do you find your biggest inspirations?
Nature will always be my biggest inspiration. I couldn’t live without animals in my life. I also have stacks and stacks of old crumbly books full of engravings. Some of my most favorite illustrations are old engravings. Scary amounts of detail and super dramatic darks and lights.
What initially inspired you to start doing art?
I have always drawn. I was drawing before I could speak. There has never been a time in my life that was separate from art. I grew up on comics and children’s books. I tend to gravitate to artists that work similarly to myself. (Artists that are) illustrative with a strong drawing basis. I went to Savannah College of Art, but I learned more from my friends than I did in school.
Over the years, you have collaborated with a lot of bands. How has music inspired your art?
I’ve been doing album art, t-shirts and flyers for bands since high school. Music has always been a big part of my life. Music has always been there as I work till it became my work.
Where is your art going next? Do you have a dream idea that you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet?
I’m only getting started! My work will only get more tangled and more over grown as it goes. This is the dream.
When you look back on your life and your career in 50 years, do you want to be able to say you accomplished a certain goal?
People seem to like my work and that will never cease to blow my mind! If I can draw for 50 more years, it still won’t be long enough for all I want to do.
Thinkspace Gallery: 6009 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232, Wed-Fri 1-6 pm and Sat 1-8pm, 310-558-3375