Jo Hummel: Transformer I

Version 2

&Gallery, Edinburgh
September 7th – 28th, 2019

Jo Hummel’s work is characterised by a painted and paper collaged surface on which she employs spontaneous variations of space, colour and form. Although her painting collages are physically engaged and materially driven the context is purposefully anthropological and Hummel’s works are informed by human habits and behaviour, with a particular interest in determinism and freewill just as much as formal concerns.

Glow, Acrylic and emulsion on watercolour paper and ply, 28 x 38 cm, £500

Hummel runs experiments where the process often determines the outcome and provides a safe arena for improvisation, a place where rational procedures can co- exist alongside intuition. In doing this she explores the unpredictable nature of intuition and spontaneity – her practice functioning as a simulation of decision making experiences which enable her to grasp, and make use of sensations such as anxiety or serenity. And it is via these conflicting emotional states of comfort, satisfaction, anxiousness, repulsion and so on that Hummel is able to tap into the ubiquitously felt state of human uncertainty. The social structures we all exist in guide and interfere with how we feel and what we choose to do on a daily basis. Our social class, religion, gender and ethnicity all play a part in what we deem pleasant or unpleasant.

The nature of collage is that throughout its creation a work is in constant flux. The artist must negotiate the canvas by rearranging, choosing and adjusting, often over long periods and having explored hundreds, even thousands of the infinite possible outcomes. In this way the creative process itself is as significant as the final outcome.



Hello Jo, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking? I’m from Farnborough and now live and work on the Isle of Wight.

profile_photo credit julian winslow.jpeg

When did you first realise you were artistic? I’m not sure about artistic but I had an urge to draw from my earliest memories of holding a pencil.

Can you tell us about your training? I’ve packed a lot of training in. I’ve just completed a years correspondence painting course at Turps Painting School. I graduated my 2 yr MA at Royal College of Art in 2006. Before that was a BA at Kingston university and before that a one year foundation at Falmouth College of Arts.

What for you makes a good piece of art?

Savage, Acrylic and emulsion on watercolour paper and ply, 70 X 70 cm, £2250

What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like? On our favourite beach Priory Bay, with my husband and kids, a couple of friends, cooking on a bbq and swimming.

What are the prime elements to the creation of collage? For me its using a material such as paper which is in constant flux until the end is reached.

You are bringing an exhibition of your work to Edinburgh, can you tell us about it? Transformer I & II is a split body of work which is shared between And Gallery and Nordic art agency in Sweden. The concept is a nod towards what we’re currently witnessing in politics and also references precarious social and physical experiences from childhood.

Where, when & why did the idea for Transformer I originate? The themes I wanted to address were separation, safety, and the illusion of safety. I had the two exhibition dates booked in, in Edinburgh and Malmo, Sweden, and saw an opportunity to make the delivery of the two shows central to the concept by linking them. Hence Transformer I&II.

What has been the biggest challenge about creating this exhibition? The biggest challenge was creating over 50 works in an intense, very focused time period of about 6 months. Its been exhausting at times but in doing so I’ve reached a heightened level of understanding which wasn’t there before.

How does your interest in determinism and freewill manifest itself in your work? Freewill and determinism governs our rudimentary instinct for making choices. My work is a constant process of decision making. In choosing the colours, form, size, and countless adjustments to the composition. During this process I am battling between intuition and intellect, order and disorder, freewill and determinism.


The current exhibition at &Gallery is a contemporary, conceptual, abstract mixed media ( acrylic,emulsion,watercolour paper on plywood) experience reminiscent of Mondrian, Klein and a tiny splattering of Jackson Pollock. Bright vivid colours complement the darks and acrid lemons. Not to say that Hummel went to the Royal College of Art to become a copyist.Far from it. These works have a 21century outlook in that they deal with difficulty of decision making. Its not always the easy path that is the right one and Hummel has honed this exhibition by concentrating on spatial issues in tandem with form and colour. Reinventing an older genre (modern art) she playfully rips, tears and precisely cuts her way through each collage till satisfied with this collection that tackles sensations such as ‘…anxiety or serenity.’

It’s not just the good, the bad and the repulsive that interest Hummel, but the entire human condition. She wants to delve into the social structures, the laws in place to control/interfere with what we really feel like doing. Barrier breaking has been intrinsic to quality Art and Hummel embraces her practice with aplomb as well as a sensitivity rare to colourfield work. Prices range from a reasonable £400 to good investments at £4,500. Her prices are as varied as the topics explored which are intrinsic to her interest in both inclusivity and non inclusivity, ‘…social class, religion, gender and ethnicity (which) all play a part in what we deem pleasant or unpleasant.’


That said, I went into the beautifully airy gallery without reading the text or luscious catalogue because I like to see what the paintings say to me. My initial reactions were sublime, a feeling of euphoria, a heady happiness at the uncluttered exuberant lusciousness of sheer joy in the application of colour without overwhelming the viewer. These are not quite paintings but they don’t scream for your attention either. They dwell on the pristine walls waiting patiently for you to be drawn in, fascinated at the juxtaposition of colour that sometimes mars but mainly compliments their neighbouring tones.

The colours in ‘Factor’ (£400) spoke to me of gender, displaying baby blues and dusky pinks as well as a plethora of vibrant hues thriving around the central macaron brown that allows the smaller areas of tangerine, yellow, grey and dark hookers green to sing. Although this work has not been selected for the catalogue I found myself particularly attracted to it. ‘Bathing’ (£500) in all its simple complexities also was a draw for me. I lost myself in its limited palette and the abstracted process of additive colour that float surreally on their white blue backdrop. The mind is a curious thing, there was an infantile primary connection for me to these intimate two works, the dialogue I had with them will be different to yours and also the artist who created them, such is the beauty and subjectivity of Fine Art. We are bound by the agenda we bring to it. Such is life’s rich tapestry.

Adjusting to the complexity of now, our less than brave new world , the insularity of our mobile madness, compliance and the difficulty/futility of aspiring to perfection is profoundly dangerous to the younger generation.The ongoing infantile side within our adult self and our specific histrionics create afire guard around us allowing for blissful escapism in, ‘ Transformer ‘ the exhibitions namesake, attempts to take back the power, addressing the fear bubble. ‘ Transformer ll ‘the Swedish sequel takes place at Nordic Art Agency, Malmo, Sweden from October 18th – November 23rd 2019. Mentally tough, Hummel’s eclectic investigation of the human condition will move you, guaranteed.

Clare Crines



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