Modernity, technology development and improved accessories and kits are making a huge difference in today’s approach to art. A market in continuous expansion is giving space to digital mediums and products refined with the latest techniques, showing us what kind of possibilities are available out there.
All of this is the outcome of a well-mixed meeting, but sometimes what we are looking for resides in the simplicity, in the traditionality of methods that bring us closer to a lightheartedness typical of children.
It is with these principles in mind that Jana Sojka, an experimental artist, develops her work.
Her experience has led her to rediscover some of the most craft-based techniques, enabling her to embark on a process of understanding the materials she works with.
For Jana, all of her work is a demonstration of her own presence, a natural and celebratory process of human creativity and the externalization of feelings and emotions through the movement and physicality of the art object.
Not limiting herself and following her instinct, Jana, lets herself be carried away, bringing through her works a genuine feeling of attachment to nature, soul and mind.
Hello Jana, welcome to JugaadMag. First of all, thank you very much for this interview, it’s great to have such a creative mind like yours on our platform. I want to start by asking you about the “always experimental” statement on your Instagram bio: it has a great meaningful impact on whoever reads it, and personally I found it intriguing. Can you tell us more about yourself and how you started on your creative journey?
Thank you for this opportunity to share a glimpse of myself in JugaadMag.
I was born in Poland but moved to Bristol almost twelve years ago. There wasn’t much space for an art in my childhood, and, maybe, that’s why I’m so curious and willing to experiment with different media. I thought that photography was first, but I remember making all kinds of journals in my teenage years. They were all destroyed, in case, one day, my mum finds them! That could have been the first-time processing and documenting my life. I took my first photograph eleven years ago after buying an old film camera at car boot sales.
At that time, we were travelling quite intense, and I wanted to document the landscape and people. In the meantime, I did some personal project like “The Spirit of the Past” or “Symbiosis”, to somehow, process my past. 2015 was the year when my daughter Helena was born, and I was fully focused on her. I just couldn’t make anything. I wanted, but I couldn’t. I think I struggled much during that time, but also realised that’s the process of life, and the day when I start ‘feeling’ it again will come and will be much more intense, and mature.
We moved to Kendal, near The Lake District, in 2017 and that was the moment when I gave myself a space and permission to create. Since that I can’t stop taking myself into introspective act of creating and translating personal memories and feelings. To liberate, even just for a moment!
As I can see you work with a wide range of mediums, from collage to animation, and journals. All these ways of expression are like “different languages” for different kinds of messages I guess, but a connection is clearly visible in my opinion, your poetic language jumps from one piece of art to the other. What is your thought about it? Do you work on them as a unity or separately?
They all came to me in the right time when I needed them. I wasn’t looking for them, they found me. They found an order out of chaos, becoming companions in good and bad days. It sounds quite pretentiously but this is the truth.
There is a good time for photography (night) and there is a good time for collaging (winter), but they became a unity at the end. I always get a ‘feeling’ which tool I should use at this particular moment. When you go deep into something, you also discover what’s about and understand it better, like my needs, for example.
For printing and collaging I would use an old ephemera that I found in family home. For animations I use stills of my short videos. It’s the same source.
Talking about the themes you work with: the night and nature, more specifically flowers. What feelings or impulses guided you towards these topics? And what kind of connection do you feel with them in relation with your experience as a person and as an artist?
My night escapades started when days became not enough. Distinct lines and shadows cast by a glimpse of light- that inspires me the most. A single light in darkness. It’s kind of a hope.
At night everything is more intense, even the colours. I really like to work with the paper, especially the old one that took on a life of its own. It reminds me the human body, especially the skin.
I try to feel before create something. Always pleasure of seeing before pleasure of taking photographs.
I felt strongly attracted to your visual artworks. They look like postcards but the emitted energy that I got from them was like a friend’s advice for my soul. They talk about contemplation and taking the time to experience what surrounds you. Why did you give them this format? Did you want to create something like a memory capsule?
It’s all about passage of time. The whole body is in this process. The nature is in this process. It’s a privilege to capture and document it.
The idea behind a collage is very simple, but in your case, they are not just images stuck one to the other. They are a concatenation of feelings, in which the images and the texts play an explanatory role. What is your process for them? How do you come up with an idea for one of them?
I wanted to make a line as evidence of my presence.
It’s a pleasure of physically feeling of cutting and glueing, re-using forgotten or unwanted pieces. After finding an old paper in my family house I decided to work with it. Usually, the starting point is the paper I collect.
As I can see from your animation you are influenced by early cinema and stop-motion, and all the crafty pieces you make for a single video are so detailed. What was your first approach to animation?
I started exploring animation (moving image, as I call it) through my photography, but the main source of inspiration was a silent and experimental cinema. It was such a pleasure for an eye to watch Ballet Mecanique. Visual poetry!
Did you have a transition between static medium (pictures, collages) and motion or it was a parallel path?
It was always a parallel path. Photography, moving images, collaging, and journaling all begin with a similar impulse- a desire and curiosity. To understand and to process.
Your journals are the gatherings of most of your pictures and thoughts. As I could see you have unique pieces on sale, and all of them are telling different stories. What is the story behind this idea and what was your first journal?
My first approach to journaling happened in my teenage years, where I was documenting daily life, gluing bus and train tickets, postcards, letters from friends… I wasn’t thinking about that as an art. I wanted to save some memories, just for myself. It was so personal, detailed. I like to talk to myself through writing.
I personally feel a difference between one of your diaries and a normal fanzine, in fact your production seems much more ‘intimate’ in a way. Do you agree with this statement? Also, do you consider your journals as a piece of you or as an outcome of what you want to convey to others?
Every error and movement is noticeable. It’s all about you, on the piece of paper. Produce as one of a kind piece. No copies. No editions. So personal and intimate. All mediums in one place. Cut, glued, rearranged, with the words that came to you at this particular moment. Feelings. Imperfections of daily life and body. I lost my dearest mum almost a year ago, and since that time I’ve been making a journal about her and how you can miss someone so much. It’s processing the feelings. When I glue or write something on paper, It’s still part of me, but, out of me. Some of the journals I keep for myself, but I’m also happy to share them with someone who is willing to receive a part of my experiences.
Last question: we talked about your love for exploration and experimentation in different ways of making art. How much would you recommend this kind of approach to people who are starting out on their own artistic journey, and how would you advise them to begin?
My studio is like my playground, I don’t want to close myself off to the possibilities of trying new things, but what works for me, it might not work for you. I let myself being guided and not fearing making mistakes. Sometimes I just need to sit at the desk and wait. Sometimes the feeling of creating something is unbearable but I’m so busy with daily tasks and that must wait. We have an impulse within us that make us express who we are, internally.