APIECE APART WOMAN
There’s a line in artist Justine Ashbee’s website bio that reads: “She has spent years doing many things, and will spend many more years doing many other things.” It’s a refreshing openness to creative evolution and fluctuation that drew us into Ashbee’s work, which she currently makes under the moniker Native Line. Based out of Brighton, England, where she moved four years ago from Washington, we spoke with Justine about her recent travels, inspiration transparency, and how to bridge the gap between curiosity and creation.
Justine wears NECK KNIT PONCHO
You juggle many different projects and many different kinds of projects. How do you manage everything?
I tend to believe that every creative project or practice is part of a bigger story that is your creative quest. We should not be defined by just one project or one way of doing things in one genre of interest.We are defined by a life of inquiry. If you allow your curiosity to stop then you risk stagnation. I think it's important to allow ourselves to fall passionately in love with something and have a rampant love affair with a medium, material, or style, and then later come to understand why, what happened, what you've learned and when it's time to let go of it. For a while there may be heartbreak or feeling lost during the in between and a bit of emptiness. But the more empty we become the more room we have for the new creative passions to fulfill us and stretch us into new selves. I think interdisciplinary activity is crucial for ongoing growth and evolution.
"We are defined by a life of inquiry. If you allow your curiosity to stop then you risk stagnation. I think it's important to allow ourselves to fall passionately in love with something and have a rampant love affair with a medium, material, or style, and then later come to understand why, what happened, what you've learned and when it's time to let go of it."
Do you ever feel pressure to choose just one medium?
No, but I do like to develop disciplined systems within different mediums. What are some recent (specific) points of creative inspiration for you? I've just recently returned from my honeymoon in Greece. It was stunning. The colors in Greece seem to be inspired by the landscape, in how the sea and the terra meet and relate. Stark contrasts between the glass blue and green crystalline Mediterranean sea water against the white rock and deep sienna soil. Everywhere we went people were growing copious food plants amidst myriad flowers. Basil was a ubiquitous potted street plant, stretching down the roads in fishing villages. Tomatoes plants crawled up palm trees. It was glorious.
You also have a background in curation — does an eye for curatorial editing play into your creative process at all?
I'm constantly curating. It is integral to my process, pulling different elements together and creating a thread between them, then following that thread to generate something new. People ask me why I am so transparent with my inspirations. The initial intention was to set forth a context within which to understand the work. Over time it became a part of the work, active mood boards as part of the overall story. I think it can be interesting to understand the thinking behind an artist or designers work rather than just seeing the end product.
Your work has taken you from Italy to California to Seattle to Rhode Island to the UK: do you see footprints from each place in your work?
I see footprints of spirit and creative retreats in my work: New Mexico, Arizona, Mexico, Peru, Morocco, Tunisia. I see the influence of these places that are outside of my daily life. The experience I have in these places gives me a sense of grounding, reconnects me to my purpose, and invigorates my creative drive.
Is there any location that you haven’t been that serves as inspiration?
We plan to go to Egypt and visit sacred sites along the Nile. It is something my husband and I are both passionate about and looking forward to doing together.
Are you a full-time artist? If not, what other things do you do for work?
Yes: full time artist, every day, all day. It's work that does not stop, but then again there is nothing else I'd rather be doing, so I feel very lucky in that regard despite the stress that can come with a self-run practice.
What do you eat for lunch?
Shaved fennel and parmesan salad with loads of olive oil, salt, pepper…try it, it will change your life.
What are you good at?
Making my husband laugh.
What are you bad at?
Resisting the urge to talk about astrology.
What albums or artists are currently rotation at home?
The Horace Silver Quintet, “Song For My Father” John Martyn, “Solid Air” Also have been listening to lots of jazz drums recordings.
What’s the best thing you’ve read recently?
Currently reading the memoirs of T.E. Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia. It's spell-bounding how poetic and compelling his observations and insights are about a part of the world that continues to be amid immense turmoil.
What is your favorite quotation?
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." — William Morris "I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be." —Albert Einstein
Justine wears LULUC SWEATER - Coming soon.
Photography by ROBIN STEIN | Words by LEIGH PATTERSON
Photography by ROBIN STEIN | Words by LEIGH PATTERSON