Jordain Molloy Gillen//


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jordain Molloy Gillen and I am a Queer artist and designer based in Northern Ireland.

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because I want people to feel good and feel loved. I am passionate about equality, human and animal rights and issues to do with the environment.

How do you work?

I work in mixed media as I like the idea of experimenting with materials to create something unique. The mediums I primarily work through though are painting, drawing, pattern cutting, garment making and design.

What’s your background?

I graduated in fine art sculpture/lens which I now use through garment making in terms of making the headdresses and fashion pieces I create. However, from a young age, I was always creating art with my grandfather who taught me how to paper-machie and draw, whilst my granny taught me how to sew.

How do you think the current (coronavirus epidemic) situation could affect artists and their local communities?

In terms of selling and exhibiting I feel that it is going to be quite challenging due to the actions surrounding the circumstances. However, artists being artists I’m sure we could find a way of getting creative through social media. And I think this is something that will really help lift people’s mood in a crisis and encourage artists to engage more with their local communities through social media. I think it will really help bring us together, to work with one another and support one another.

Do you think the government should ensure culture does not disappear during these difficult times?

To be honest, I’m not sure if our government really cares. Looking at the current circumstances the powers in the UK seem a little lost and unprepared which is worrying. In my opinion, I think it’s up to the communities and the people to stay strong, support one another and encourage culture to still live on through these difficult times. It can be done.

Is the current situation impacting your art practice?

Honestly with myself at the moment I am feeling very anxious as I do suffer slightly from anxiety. So at the moment with my practice, my sewing has come to a halt as I usually travel two hours each way once a week on a train to my little studio space as I am part of the Fashion Hub in Derry, although I live in Ballymena. It’s only at the hub I have access to appropriate industrial machinery to make the garments and I’m not sure now when I can next get down. In regard to my initial artwork, I have plans to paint this week in the hope that it will help to keep me calm. My work is quite spiritual based and comes from the heart so I’d say a lot of the work I’ll be producing over the next few weeks will be illustrative of trying to stay strong and keep the peace.

What role does the artist have in society?

For me, the role of an artist is to address the problems in society but also to introduce escapism for society. Whilst it’s important to have our take on the world around us, for me I want my work to allow people to escape from the madness of the world, even just for a second and feel at ease or to feel inspired.

How has your practice changed over time?

My practice has really elevated since leaving uni. Whilst university or college is a creative place for some people, for me, it was almost the opposite. Whilst I experimented with materials and thought processes at uni, I almost felt suppressed in a way as I felt that my practice was being misunderstood due to the course being fine art based, whilst I wanted to explore textiles more. I always had a love for painting, however, when I went to art college, I was told that I couldn’t paint which suppressed my desire for painting for a long time. Eventually, when I graduated three years ago, I was in a very bad place and almost felt lost in every direction and so this is when I started to paint again. As time progressed, I have now learnt new painting skills and have developed my practice fantastically. And whilst I continued to make headpieces, my desire for garment making grew stronger and so this is when I joined the fashion hub in September last year. Since then I haven’t looked back.

What themes do you pursue?

My work is primarily influenced by Queer identity and spirituality. I like to explore personal growth, feelings of love and positive glow within my work. I love the fact that I am a Queer/Spiritual artist as it allows me to teach others through art and give insight into things that perhaps people don’t know too much about.

Should art be funded?

Without a doubt, art should be funded. Whether you see it as a hobby or a career there is a clear growth in interest in the arts over the past few years and think it’s really helped people with their mental health and approach to life. If an artist can make or do something that helps to bring a community together or challenge problems existing in society then why shouldn’t it be funded?

What research do you do?

With such a specific interest in Queer identity within society, I am constantly keeping myself informed with evolving issues and solutions associated with this globally, regularly. At the moment, in particular, I am doing a lot of research into non-binary, gender fluid identities and how this evolving through recent fashion trends. As a spiritualist, my work is also constantly being informed with my growth and connections with nature and the stars. So, I am constantly researching about astrology and nature, hence my direct interest in environmental issues.

What is your dream project?

My dream project would be to project manage and design a fashion show for anyone from any background to attend, where a collective of designers, myself included, design a collection which is made to fit all shapes and sizes and is modelled and performed by performers and acts on a runway designed with clouds and a giant moon which the performers can interact with.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

My main goal is to establish my brand as an artist and designer specifically for the Queer community. I want my work to be accessible for everyone and for everyone to feel a sense of joy and love from what I do. Ultimately my dream would be to attend the MET Gala, so we’ll see what happens. Hopefully one day haha

Any final thoughts?

I just want to express how I think this is such a fabulous idea of bringing artists together to exhibit together and showcase their work in an innovative way. It really helps to create and build a network and it would be lovely to see more opportunities like this.

Jordain Molloy, Wearing Silk