Artist creates Frankenstein’s monsters and gains self-acceptance after disfiguring car accident





Updated

October 10, 2019 08:34:37

Freya Jobbins’ artwork cuts close to the bone as she deconstructs dolls by slicing off body parts then reassembling them.

Key points:

  • Artist Freya Jobbins was involved in a head-on car crash 27 years ago that left her face disfigured
  • Since then, her artwork involves collecting toys, mostly dolls, in order to disassemble and reconstruct them
  • Jobbins calls her work ‘rubber-neck art’, saying it’s impossible to look away

Her creations look like Frankenstein’s babies but they are also a reminder of the head-on car accident 27 years ago that left her face ripped to pieces.

“I don’t do aesthetics in the sense of beauty. I don’t do pretty. I like to disrupt the viewing process. I want you to look at it and have a response to it,” Ms Jobbins said.

“An American once called my art ‘rubber-necking art’, and I love it.

“You rubber-neck at a car accident, you know you shouldn’t look because you might see something that will horrify you, but still you look.”

It is a theme that has haunted assemblage artist Ms Jobbins since early childhood when the boys in primary school gave her the nickname Frankenstein.

“I think it was because I was the ugliest girl in my class,” she said.

Surgically stitched

Ms Jobbins, who is based south-west of Sydney in Picton, New South Wales, believed that it was just a coincidence that her work had that relationship of deconstruction and reconstruction with a Frankenstein storyline.

But her latest work, a photomontage based on a real-life experience, suggests otherwise.

The artist was involved in a head-on motor vehicle accident in her 20s, which changed her life.

“I hit my head against the dashboard and caused a lot of damage to my forehead and left eye. I lost half my nose,” she said.

Through 14 operations, Ms Jobbins underwent reconstruction to rebuild an eyelid and her nose where gristle was cut off her ears to graft to her nose.

The first time it failed and had to be redone.

Twenty-seven years on, she finally addressed, in her artwork, the impact that accident has had on her life.

Using the Japanese method of Kintsugi, surgical-style stitches were used to connect the ripped photomontage images with gold thread.

“This is me accepting what happened, articulating it, and actually being quite proud to hang it on the wall,” she said.

“Exposing myself because that is the most vulnerable you can get — when you are at your worst.

“The rebuilding of my face has now been logged in my artwork.”

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Jobbins’ experience of the car crash led to her developing PTSD.

She said that sufferers tend to mask their feelings, emotions and thoughts.

“I think we do this because we feel that nobody really wants to know we are so low and so depressed,” she said.

“So, we put on this fake mask and pretend we are happy, happy, happy.”

Mosaicking with plastic

Ms Jobbins said that the material she works with is universal.

“Everybody — doesn’t matter how old you are, where you come from, what country, what culture, what sex, what race — you have played with toys,” she said.

“So I have an instant connection with people.”

What Ms Jobbins does with the second-hand, recycled toys she picks up at Vinnies and Lifeline is nothing short of shocking.

“I cut off the limbs. The hands and the legs and the feet,” she said.

“These detailed, tiny little hands — 700 or 800 of them are used to create a work.

“I use repetitive patterns and designs, and they have to be symmetrical because the brain likes symmetry and balance.”

Using the tiny parts, she creates detailed surfaces.

“I can scalp the doll. I take the face off the doll using acetone to remove the eyes and the lips,” she said.

“I splice them, and I cut them into triangles and I can cover surfaces with them. So, it’s very textural.”

The plastic age

Jobbins’ work in plastic, which is far from beautiful and often breathtakingly weird and awkward, is as ugly as it is interesting.

“I love standing in the background watching people just be revolted,” she said.

Despite having relied on plastic for much of her work over the past few decades, Ms Jobbins said she is anti-plastic, which is why the material she works with is fully recycled.

“It’s important for me that I don’t go out and purchase new products to make an artwork,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the plastic I use will be on this planet a lot longer than I will be, but it’s been changed.”

These days she is an advocate for creating sustainable art.

“I’m moving more towards paper and wood because I know that one day it will dissolve or disintegrate into the earth, which I’m a lot happier about,” she said.

The Finger Pointing series

In a previous life in 1998, before her accident, Ms Jobbins was in the Australian Federal Police working as the nation’s first female weapons instructor.

“I’m not a hunter but I do enjoy target shooting. I did enjoy competing and competed internationally in pistol shooting and handguns,” she said.

Her Finger Pointing series asked audiences to consider who is responsible for gun-related deaths.

The fingers point toward the trigger.

“This is my response to the lack of gun laws in America and the death of so many school children.

“As a mother myself, I’d find it most traumatic trying to send my kids to school in America where access to firearms is overwhelmingly easy.”

Evolving as a person and an artist

Ms Jobbins is adamant that her work is not art therapy.

“I never touched on my previous life in my artwork when I was studying a Fine Arts Diploma at TAFE — that all came later,” she said.

Having recently completed a Bachelor in Visual Arts, Ms Jobbins was pleased that her work has refocussed and is taking her in new directions.

“My work is constantly evolving like I am,” she said.

“I change quite often, we all change.

“Our personality grows, and our environment changes and I think my artwork is basically reacting to that.”

Ms Jobbins’ art career is her second career and she felt that it is only just beginning to take shape.

“I am still an emerging or early career artist,” she said.

Ms Jobbins currently has work on show as part of the NOW Contemporary exhibition at the Shoalhaven Regional Art Gallery in Nowra, NSW and is working on a commission for Hawkesbury Gallery for a show for early 2020, themed around A Country Practice.

“I’m doing an ode to Esme Watson, who I adored during my teen years. I’m creating a plastic portrait of her for that,” she said.

“I love my plastic portraits. It’s uncanny how similar they are to the actual sitter. The older the sitter the better. The more wrinkles they have the better.”

Topics:

arts-and-entertainment,

health,

mental-health,

recycling-and-waste-management,

contemporary-art,

art-and-design,

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campbelltown-2560,

penrith-2750,

lower-hawkesbury-2775,

wagga-wagga-2650,

wollongong-2500,

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nowra-2541

First posted

October 10, 2019 07:54:59



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