South West Sydney, Contemporary artist Freya Jobbins’ art practice includes: assemblage, collage, installation and printmaking. Best known for her provocative, disturbing and humorous assemblages created from dolls and plastic children’s toys, she also creates larger site specific installations and sculptures. Freya’s had three solo shows, been a selected finalist in prominent art competitions and has been in over 50 group shows. Her works are in private and corporate collections and exhibits nationally and internationally: the Toy Art & Design Exhibition, Old Jaffa Museum of Antiquities Tel-Aviv in Israel, and currently she has a work on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Where are you from? Growing up, what did you geek out on? What comics, tv shows, movies, characters were you into?
I was born in Johannesburg South African, at 8 immigrated to Sydney Australia. Growing up in western Sydney, riding my bike and skateboard where I was into ABBA in a serious way, loved Pippy Long Stockings (Politically incorrect book character). STAR WARS was the first movie I saw at a cinema and have influenced both my two boys into STAR WARS followers too.
What are you geeking out on now?
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR. As I work with toys, I find some awesome specimens. I keep the weird ones but I always buy (these are all second hand from op shops charity shops and donations) BUZZ LIGHTYEAR. He is my main man. I will never cut him up I just buy more and more BUZZ LIGHTYEARS. I have his laser, backpack, wings, lunchbox, watch etc etc. One day I hope to build a BUZZ LIGHTYEAR chandelier.
How long have you been sculpting?
I have been creating assemblages with toys now for 8 years.
What all goes into making each piece? What materials do you use?
That’s a super long question. Time goes into each piece. The ‘faces’ could take two weeks, the ‘Heads’ somewhere between 1-6 months. Depends on the materials, if its particular toy like BATMAN he took 14 months as every single piece had to be a BATMAN toy. The large life size pieces can take a full year to complete. I use second hand toys and dolls
How did you learn your craft? Is this something you taught yourself?
I did study Art but I only studied Assemblage Art in theory lessons. The practical part of my practice is experimentation, practice, practice, practice. Ripping things apart when they look like crap and starting again and again. The technical skills required were what you would call ‘learnt on the job.’ Each piece just looked better than the last and its highly addictive too.
You’ve created such designs as Batman, Darth Vader, Bart Simpson, and so many more! How do you decide what to make? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Those pieces were all commissions. So the client stipulates what they like and I work around their choices. I work with what I find, if I find a certain amount of say cars at the Op shops, I rip the wheels off and I have “Whoopi Goldberg’s” curly black hair.
Depends if I am working on a series of works, I tend to search for particulars toys for an idea I have in my head. I am very influenced by the historical Greeks and their Myths. These tend to be related to our contemporary society so I like to find the ling. Look at my work ‘Cassiopeia’ and her vanity and today’s obsession with selfies.
What’s the hardest or most challenging piece you’ve ever created? What made it so difficult?
Um… not sure about that one. They are all challenging because I MUST have symmetry in the faces, I struggle with this obsession on each piece. And not many dolls have the exact same hands or feet… this drives me nuts.
What has been your most favorite piece that you’ve ever created?
I love my ‘Frida’ she is an early piece (2010), that I have kept and will never sell. She is made from kinder surprise dolls.
You’ve won dozens & dozens of awards for your work, how has your life changed since the creation of your website, your shop, and your popularity online?
Connections with so many people all around the world. Love the internet and its incredible linking powers.
Well more people know what I do here in a small town so they think I am a ‘little’ strange which I don’t mind at all because I am different! More people recognize my work in varied exhibitions and competitions. Kids or all ages love my work as we can all connect to my materials and I am more than happy to chat about my artwork. I get a lot of donations of dolls and doll parts from people overseas, which I love so much, its like Christmas when I go to the Post Office. I have found many like minded artists and have some really nice followers on facebook and Instagram who they themselves create unbelievable artwork. And heaps of sales of my artwork. I have created over 150 pieces and I only have about 20 of those pieces still with me…
You also produce prints that are focused on contemporary social commentary. How long have you been doing your prints? Where do you draw your inspiration from for your printmaking?
I majored in Printmaking at art school. I have created prints for over 10 years now. Printmaking is my more serious side and very personal. Dark and more melancholy. The inspiration here is what I feel and see. Last series is based on my eldest son’s time in the Australian Army serving in Afghanistan and my angst about the time he was away. Someone’s Son.
Where do you sell your pieces? Do you take commissions?
I sell through my website, FB site, galleries and shows. Yes I do commissions but not that many per year.
Do you have any Workshops and/or Exhibits coming up?
I do children’s workshops during school holidays, I also do residencies at High Schools. I had a solo show in Melbourne early this year, so no more solo shows this year but I am hoping to exhibit in New York one day and would love to do a show in Berlin in 2018. Yes, I dream big, I like to put it out there and I am confident it will happen.
Can you give us a hint as to what are you working on now?
Currently I am creating my DEPOSITORY its my little caravan which was THE MUSEUM OF CHILDHOOD MEMORY. Internally now the caravan has been stripped of the thousands of toys I had in there on each surface. Now its white every where and I will install my skin toned assemblages. I will have pickled pieces in jars… and I am currently working on making to ‘sleeping’ children. Ready for an outdoor sculpture exhibition in May. Keep track on my FB and Instagram sites.
You’ve been very generous with your time! Thank you for this interview, and we look forward to seeing your next creations!
Be sure to check out the various Freya Jobbins websites: