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Jane Polkinghorne

The Year of Denim started as a year-long joke that required serious commitment. 

For a year, from my birthday on April 30, 2009 until April 30 2010, I wore denim every day and blogged about every outfit. This wasn’t about wearing a single pair of jeans for a year: I committed to not double but triple denim. Every day I wore a denim top, a denim bottom and at least one denim accessory. And not only blue denim but all shades of denim, including denim and the phenomenon of ‘jeggings’ (leggings that look like jeans) and anything printed to resemble denim. 

The project had a few inspirations. One was the United Nations designated “International Year of…”. Back in late 2008 I was in an op shop browsing the denim and said out loud “The UN should do a year of denim.” In the absence of the UN committing to a Year of Denim, I committed myself.

I was also responding in part to many year-long projects that some artists in Sydney were doing at the time, who were in turn inspired by the year-long performances of Tehching Hsieh. They were and remain “serious” artists. In stark contrast, my practice has often functioned as a kind of joke, even at times a piss-take. But one that I have committed to for 30 years now. 

The Year of Denim brought together strands of my creative practice and my life – performance and persona, humour and play, op shopping as a creative practice and archival research, a tabloid sensibility and an art education steeped in conceptual practices, art and the everyday. The Year of Denim, in providing space for these interests to intersect, allowed me to be absurd and playful, dedicated and serious at a moment many of us face as artists where I was thinking “can I be arsed continuing?” In committing to a pointless project I rediscovered joy in creative practice, pleasure in repetition and seriousness through intent.

Jane Polkinghorne’s practice merges video, performance, photography and installation often in collaboration. Her work focuses on a critical and humorous examination of the pathos and horror of the gendered body. They situate their work within contemporary and historical feminist discourses, operating from a fascination with how disgust manifests and is often contained and provoked through humour. Alongside a solo practice Jane has worked collaboratively as The Twilight Girls with Helen Hyatt-Johnston for over two decades. They have had a long-standing involvement with artist-run projects in Sydney, most recently in the artist space Marrickville Garage, which from 2013-2016 provided a place to develop and expand their curatorial projects and develop working relationships with artists. In February 2019 Jane relocated to Victoria and currently lives in Harcourt.

Southern Western, their curatorial project in collaboration with Gareth Hart, is on at Mildura Arts Centre until 1 May 2022.

With over twenty years of continued creative practice Jane shows their work in a range of spaces and contexts including contemporary art spaces, art museums, regional art galleries and artist spaces in Australia and the United States.