Vale: Jo Meisner

Jo Meisner (1954-2019) was not only my dear friend. She was a driven and passionate artist making exciting and engaging contemporary art. Alluring, colourful, often light-filled works that draw people in to look, wonder and relate, often prompting a sharing of their own stories of that aspect of human experience which so fascinated Jo – how we can be together yet apart – the lonely crowd.As art has a wonderful way of colliding with life, our friendship and times together brought so much to each of our practices, and for me the added opportunity and privilege to write about her work through that lens. Probably the most personally written was this opener:

“I see her (still) in my mind’s eye, in a bright and cold Paris Spring. Jo stands, backlit against narrow floor-length windows, the iron curlicues of a balcony just visible outside. Inside her artists’ studio it is warm; perched high among the grey mansard chimney-potted roofscape where pigeons murmur and wings flutter. Lit by shafts of lengthening light, her neck bends over the task in her dexterous hands, a small doll-like figure that is no plaything. A worktable behind her is littered with jewel-bright scraps. Exuberantly patterned and coloured textiles, fallen in cut shapes, evoking amber, turquoise, crimson and jade. That bent neck, her distinctive head of tiny curls, bouncing as she talks in her gentle and clipped cadence, about the movement of people, the crisis of asylum, humanity’s civility at stake, histories of exodus repeating themselves, her own people included, her conviction is clear, a calm vehemence spiralling (outwards, into her work).”
– Extract from Lisa Sharp’s catalogue essay ‘strange dolls’ for Jo’s first solo show ‘éclairage: the fabric of the maligned’ Sydney, 2017

Links 

Jo Meisner Like Lost Children We Live Our Unfinished Adventures II, 2019. Digital Print on laser cut Perspex block 19 x 13 x 4 cm. Hold Everything Dear, Group Exhibition, Grace Cossington Smith Gallery. Photo from https://jomeisner.com.au/archive.

 – Lisa Sharp